Wednesday, April 29, 2015

What-I'm-Reading-Wednesday: Quiet Dell by Jayne Anne Phillips

 Quiet Dell is the spell-binding, fictional account of a murder that shook the nation. Jayne Anne Phillips found the newspaper account of the grisly murder of a widow and her three small children. A con man lured Asta Eicher, a wealthy widow, to her fate through a series of love letters in the early thirties in the small town Quiet Dell close to Clarksburg, West Virginia.

Most of the novel is narrated by Emily Thornhill, a Chicago journalist, who travels to West Virginia to cover the story for her newspaper. During the investigation and trial, the reader learns that Harry Powers seduced and murdered other women.

Briefly mentioned in her first novel, Machine Dreams, the crime and its effect on the Clarksburg community is recounted with detail in Quiet Dell, currently displayed with new books on Floor 3.  

Details of the trial were included in a New York Times article on December 11, 1931. Access is available at the Ort Library on Proquest Historical New York Times database at the link below:

 POWERS CONVICTED; HE FACES HANGING. (1931, Dec 11). New York Times (1923-Current File) Retrieved from

The Ort Library has nine earlier works by Jayne Anne Phillips available on Floor 5 in the PS3566.H479 area. 

Monday, April 27, 2015

Need to Practice a Presentation? Try the Multimedia Presentation Room

Multimedia Presentation Room Available on the 2nd Floor of the Ort Library

Need to practice an upcoming group presentation? The Ort Library offers the Multimedia Presentation Room on the 2nd Floor of the library to assist you with practicing for your presentation. 

The Multimedia Presentation Room allows students to practice a presentation utilizing the same equipment you would see in the classrooms on campus. 

The Multimedia Presentation Room is also available for students to watch DVDs or VHS tapes that the library has available. The room is equipped with a large LCD monitor for watching DVDs or VHS tapes.

If you have any questions about using the Multimedia Presentation Room, please see a librarian at the Reference Desk.  

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

What-I’m-Reading-Wednesday: Why Evolution is True by Jerry A. Coyne

Jerry A. Coyne is uniquely qualified to discuss the topic of evolution. He is a professor of biology with concentrations in speciation and ecological & evolutionary genetics at the University of Chicago in the Department of Ecology and Evolution. In the book, Why Evolution is True, Jerry Coyne notes that those who disagree with Darwin about evolution will not be convinced by anything in this book. However, he notes: “for the many who find themselves uncertain, or who accept evolution but are not sure how to argue their case, this volume gives a succinct summary of why modern science recognizes evolution as true” (p. xiv). 

Coyne spends the first chapter discussing evolution and Darwin. Darwin came up with the theory of evolution through natural selection well before science was able to determine genetic lineage through DNA. Coyne also notes that many of the claims about Evolution not being true are because it is just a theory. However, he notes that in scientific terms a theory is “a well-thought-out group of propositions meant to explain facts about the real world” (p. 15). He points out that no one balks at the Theory of Gravity or the Theory of Relativity. 

The second chapter discusses the fossil record, from the time the earth formed until the present. Coyne uses several different animals to show how they have gradually changed over time. He discusses the evolution of whales from a land animal to the sea creature that we now know. The rest of the book, based on the Contents page, looks to discuss how life spread across the globe and how we as humans evolved. 

So far it has been a fascinating read learning about:  
Why Evolution is True

This volume is available to request from the Ort Library catalog here:  Click on “Availability,” the click on the yellow “Request” button.  Log in using your first name and 14 digit library barcode from your ID.  If you need assistance, please contact the Circulation Desk at 301 687-4395.

Pictures taken by: T. Mastrodonato

Friday, April 17, 2015

Featured Online Resource - Federal Mobile Apps Directory

Is there an app for that?  In the federal government, there just might be an app to suit your interests!

The Federal Mobile Apps Directory at maintains a list of all apps provided by agencies. Some of the apps are actually created by private companies or organizations, but use government data to do so.

Some interesting apps that are available include:

  • Tornado by American Red Cross - Helps you prepare for disaster as well as know what to do in the aftermath.
  • Dried Botanicals Key by Animal & Plant Health Inspection Service - Interested in arranging dried flowers or making potpourri? This can help you learn more about dried plants!
  • Eyenote by Bureau of Engraving and Printing - Accessibility app for the blind or visually impaired. Scans US paper currency and identifies the denomination.
  • Solve the Outbreak by Centers for Disease Control - Learn more about contagious disease as you attempt to solve an outbreak!
  • NORAD Tracks Santa by Dept of Defense - Have fun tracking Santa's progress across the globe!
  • ReUnited by National Library of Medicine - Reconnect with family and friends after a disaster.
  • MyTSA by Dept of Homeland Security - Be prepared to navigate through airport security by using this Frequently Asked Questions app.
  • PTSD Coach by Dept. of Veterans Affairs - learn more about, and find assistance for Post Traumatic Stress Disorder
  • SunWise UV Index by Environmental Protection Agency - See when the sun is at its strongest to help decide when it is wise to seek some shade!
  • FBI Child ID by Federal Bureau of Investigation - Store photos and information about your child in case of emergency.
  • FEMA by Federal Emergency Management Agency - Tools and advice for use before, during and after a variety of disasters.
  • Aesop for Children by Library of Congress - Interactive book containing over 140 classic fables.
  • Be a Martian by Jet Propulsion Laboratory - Experience Mars as if you were there!
  • QuitPal by National Cancer Institute - help and support as you quit smoking
  • USPS Mobile by US Postal Service - helpful tools such as postage calculators and ZIP code lookups.
These are just apps with information from the US Government.  Consider searching for apps for your city, county, or state.  For example, Maryland offers:

Every week, the Ort Library brings you a new and outstanding resource from the Web or from one of the library's databases. To get an archive of all FOR entries, click here. Also, you can suggest a website that provides well-organized access to useful info.

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

What-I'm-Reading-Wednesday: Spice: A History of a Temptation by Jack Turner

The History of a Temptation
by: Jack Turner

Blog Posting Written by: MaryJo Price

Many of us take the spices in our cupboard for granted.  It seems unlikely that we think of the history of the expensive spices that ruled the world.   The five spices of fame are: cinnamon, nutmeg/mace, ginger, cloves, and pepper.  The search around the world for these spices led Vasco da Gama, Columbus, and Magellan to sail to the Americas, India, and around the world. 

Jack Turner’s book gives us a unique way to explore history and human culture.  Turner uses seven chapters to show the reader how spices changed the world.  Turner writes about The Spice Race, Ancient Appetites, Medieval Europe, The Spice of Life, The Spice of Love, Foods for the Gods, Some like it Bland, and The End of the Spice Age.

Before the cultivation of spices began, cloves grew on five tiny volcanic islands in what is today the Indonesian archipelago; nutmeg/mace grew on the archipelago of Bandas or South Moluccas; pepper came mostly from Malabar on the southwest coast of India, ginger from Southeast Asia, and cinnamon from Ceylon (Sri Lanka).  The fact that spices were so difficult to find contributed to their expense and their mystical attraction.  

Nations rose and fell as their hold on the spice trade was taken over by another.  Turner covers the Portuguese, the Dutch, and the English empires.  He writes about the Age of Discovery, the impact the spice trade had on the relationship between the West and the East, the part religion played in the history of spices, and how the allure disappeared as spices became more affordable and commonplace.  

Turner inserts anecdotal information throughout the book.  One interesting tidbit is that Ramses II (1224 BC) had a peppercorn inserted into each nostril.   This lends validity to the fact that spices were used for preserving the dead.   The book teems with Interesting facts and information about the explorers, medical uses, culinary information, about spices to make ale and wines more palatable, cloves financed Magellan’s voyage, and so much more.

Turner’s books provides fascinating reading through the ages of exploration, wars, love, religion, cooking, finances, and everyday life, giving the reader an insight into human culture, and history.  After reading Spice: The History of a Temptation we will look at the spices in the cupboard with a different viewpoint.

This volume is available to request from the Ort Library catalog here:   Click on “Availability,” the click on the yellow “Request” button.  Log in using your first name and 14 digit library number from your ID.  If you need assistance, please contact the Circulation Desk at 301 687-4395.

Photos by: MaryJo Price

Monday, April 13, 2015

Ort Library Presents New Displays for April 2015

The first display, located on the 3rd floor near the entrance, celebrates the 90th Anniversary of the book The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald. It is considered an American classic. The display also highlights some of the items we have in the library on the author and the book.

The second display, located on the 3rd floor near the entrance, celebrates National Poetry Month. The display highlights examples of poetry that is available in the library.

The third display, located on the 4th floor, celebrates Jazz History Month. The display provides background information on the history of Jazz and also showcases Jazz books, videos, and CDs available in the library.

The fourth display, located on the 5th floor, honors the anniversary of Apollo 13 on April 13, 2015 when its main space module had a catastrophic explosion. The display highlights the history of Apollo 13 and some resources the library has on the Apollo program as a whole.

Thursday, April 9, 2015

Featured Online Resource - TED-Ed: Lessons Worth Sharing

This week’s Featured Online Resource is TED-Ed: Lessons Worth Sharing ( TED-Ed Lessons are video lessons that have been created in collaboration with educators, screenwriters, and animators. They cover a range of topics and usually are less than 5 minutes long. Additionally, anyone can create their own lesson using TED Talks or YouTube videos. The site walks users through creating their own lessons.

Each lesson contains:

  • Video
  • Multiple choice and open answer questions
  • Option to learn more about the concept 
  • Discussion Questions

 An example is the Law of Conservation of Mass:

Every week, the Ort Library brings you a new and outstanding resource from the Web or from one of the library's databases. To get an archive of all FOR entries, click here. Also, you can suggest a website that provides well-organized access to useful info.