March 16 is the birthday of James Madison, the fourth president of the United States, whom some say was an early advocate for transparency in our government. In his honor, March 16 is now celebrated as Freedom of Information Day by the American Library Association and a coalition of other organizations. Some advocates have expanded the day into a Sunshine Week, which runs from March 13 to March 19 this year.
If you are interested in learning more about transparency in government, a great place to begin is the Sunlight Foundation, a nonpartisan nonprofit that promotes accountability through policy, technology, and reporting. The Sunlight Foundation’s tech tools include the Congress mobile app, which puts information about your representatives in the palm of your hand, and Political Party Time, which tracks political fundraising events. A similar organization, the OpenGov Foundation, offers The Madison Project, an online tool that legislators can use to share bills as they’re being written and solicit input from constituents.
In the digital age, government agencies are responding to calls for transparency by making data available online. To learn how this trend got its start right in our backyard, check out Chapter 2 of the online publication Beyond Transparency, written by Brett Goldstein, the former Chief Data Officer of the City of Chicago. You might also want to delve into Chicago’s open data portal and/or the federal government’s Data.gov.
As for books and movies to help you celebrate Freedom of Information Day, look no further than the Lincolnwood Library’s shelves. The Red Web: The Struggle Between Russia’s Dictators and the New Online Revolutionaries, a 2015 book by Andrei Soldatov and Irina Borogan, is a gripping account of what can happen when a state does not embrace transparency in the digital age. And Truth, the 2015 movie starring Robert Redford and Cate Blanchett, is based on the actual experience of a CBS News team trying to expose records that the White House wanted to keep behind closed doors.
Whether you dive into the depths with data or take a bird’s eye view, spend a moment today recognizing the hard work of those who advocate for freedom of information.
Celebrate the madness of March and your love for books with our Book Madness bracket!
Help us determine the champion as Mystery/Suspense, Historical Fiction, Science Fiction/Fantasy, and Nonfiction go head to head.
Vote here on the Sweet Sixteen between March 7 and March 13. (You do not need to have read a book to vote for it.)
The Elite Eight will be announced March 14!
We continue our hoopla recommendations for election season (see the first installment here) with another example of the broad impact of U.S. elections. In his 2014 book Spin: How Politics Has the Power to Turn Marketing on its Head, available an ebook from hoopla, Clive Veroni shows how the tactics used by campaign strategists to turn candidates into brands and voters into buyers have been adopted by marketing professionals. “Delightfully captivating and riveting,” wrote the Publisher’s Weekly reviewer, “this is a must-read for marketers and political strategists and is highly recommended for all consumers.”
Just because elections are business—and serious business, at that—doesn’t mean we can’t have fun with them. Doreen Cronin’s Duck for President was published as a children’s book and found an appreciative audience among fans of the author’s classic Click, Clack, Moo, but it’s a thoroughly entertaining story for all ages. The audiobook is on hoopla, narrated by country singer Randy Travis, who captures the absurdity of the farm election with his earnest drawl.
Finally, if you’re fed up with contemporary politics, go back to the early days of our union to experience an even more dramatic political environment in the original Broadway cast recording of the runaway hit musical “Hamilton.” What are you waiting for? Get it now on hoopla!
Speaking of waiting, remember that you’ll never have to wait to enjoy the movies, audiobooks, ebooks, and albums you find on hoopla. Theoretically, every Lincolnwood resident could be listening to the “Hamilton” soundtrack at the same time…and given the show’s popularity, that doesn’t seem so far-fetched. By March 15, we could all be dancing to the polls to cast ballots in the Illinois primary while singing “not throwing away my shot!”
Election fever is sweeping the country as Super Tuesday approaches, with the March 15 Illinois primary to follow. If you’ve caught the bug, treat it (while treating yourself!) with these titles from hoopla digital.
The movie “Primary Colors,” starring John Travolta, Emma Thompson, Billy Bob Thornton, and Kathy Bates, satirizes a presidential candidate based loosely on former President Clinton. When it came out in 1998, Roger Ebert called it “a superb film—funny, insightful and very wise about the realities of political life,” and it holds up quite well eighteen years later, with a second Candidate Clinton on the campaign trail. Watch it tonight on hoopla.
Kids who are witnessing their first presidential election are likely to have a lot of questions. (Do you join a political party to play games and eat cake? Does a running mate go jogging with the candidate? Is the Electoral College like Oakton Community College?) Teach them the basics with If I Ran for President by Catherine Stier, illustrated by Lynne Avril, available as an ebook on hoopla.
Ari Berman’s Give Us the Ballot: The Modern Struggle for Voting Rights in America was named one of the best books of 2015 by the New York Times, Washington Post, and NPR, among others; it’s now a finalist for a National Book Critics Circle Award. Publisher’s Weekly called it a “definitive history” and praised the audiobook, which you can access using hoopla, for “draw[ing] out some of the more dramatic elements of the narrative.”
Stay tuned for three more election-related hoopla recommendations next week.
An exciting new way to develop early literacy skills with our youngest library users has cropped up at the Lincolnwood Library! iPads loaded with early literacy games are now docked in the picture book section just waiting to be played with.
Our librarians have loaded the new iPads with games that fit one of the five early literacy practices: playing, singing, talking, reading, and writing. Each app focuses on one or more of these skills and helps little library users develop the tools they will need to grow into avid readers.
Early literacy is the concept of building skills through practices listed above. The skills developed include print awareness and motivation, narrative skills, vocabulary, and more. Having a strong knowledge of these skills at a young age sets children up for academic and personal success. By having these iPads loaded with apps to focus on these skills and practices, the Lincolnwood Library is helping grow readers through technology.
What about the computers we already have? The desktop Early Literacy Stations, which are also loaded with early literacy games, will be eventually phased out as part of our renovation. Similar to those computers, the iPads do not require a library card to use and are available for play as long as the library is open. So far, they have been a huge success!
In addition to just being a great time for our children, these iPads tie back to our strategic plan. One of our initiatives, Computers and Technology, was designed to connect us to the digital world. Our early literacy iPads extend that connection to the community’s youngest members, while enabling staff to continuously update the selection of apps to with the latest research-based, kid-approved games.
Interested in checking out our early literacy iPads? Head on over to the library, where a Youth Services librarian will be happy to show them off.
Since 1976, the United States has recognized February as African American History Month. Here at the library, we have books and films about African American history available all year long, but this month, we’re highlighting some of them on displays throughout the building. Our diverse selection includes the classic Uncle Tom’s Cabin; Negroland, a new memoir about growing up Chicago’s upper-class black community; Lillian’s Right to Vote, a picture book celebration of the 1965 Voting Rights Act; and All American Boys, a timely and challenging novel for teens (and indeed, for adults).
If you can’t make it to the library, search MyMediaMall for ebooks like Twelve Years a Slave or The Warmth of Other Suns, or stream movies like “Lee Daniels’ The Butler” or “Fruitvale Station” from hoopla’s Black History Month collection. You can also use Explora to read magazine and journal articles about the Civil Rights Movement (note: you must log in with your library card to view this link), or search the library’s historical archive of the Chicago Tribune to see what journalists of the day wrote about events like the school desegregation demonstrations of 1963.
Here in the Chicago area, we are lucky to have Black History Month treasure troves like the DuSable Museum and the Shorefront Legacy Center. Nationally, check out the incredible digital collections of the New York Public Library’s Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, or download an app that lets you pay a 3D virtual reality “visit” to the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History and Culture prior to its long-awaited opening this fall.
If you’d like further recommendations for reading, viewing, or research in honor of African American History Month, don’t hesitate to ask a librarian.
The website Book Riot created the Read Harder Challenge in 2015 to help readers “discover genres, authors, and titles [they] otherwise wouldn’t have picked up.” For the 2016 Challenge, they’ve issued a new list of 24 tasks, such as “read a play” and “read a book under 100 pages,” designed to push you out of your reading comfort zone.
In describing the Challenge, Book Riot stresses that “this isn’t a test. No one is keeping score and there are no points to post.” However, if you get through all 24 tasks—and it’s fine to use the same book for more than one—you can email a picture of your completed list to email@example.com by Dec. 31, 2016 to get a 30% discount on t-shirts, totes, and other fun bookish paraphernalia from Book Riot’s online store.
Here at the Lincolnwood Public Library, we’re stepping up to the Read Harder Challenge with displays and lists covering different tasks throughout the year. Stop by for a copy of the list that you can use to track your progress, and/or some great reading recommendations.
If you can’t make it to the library, you can download the list from Book Riot and get book recommendations from the Read Harder Group on Goodreads. There, you’ll find an active discussion board with threads for each and every task. You can also visit in-person Read Harder book groups, the closest of which meets on the third Thursday of every month at Roscoe Books in Chicago.
Let us know if you choose to participate—we’d love to hear how (and help) you Read Harder in 2016.
As if it weren’t difficult enough to keep up with the meteoric rate of development in technology for humans, technology for pets is developing apace. Here are a few of the latest innovations:
- Traveling with your pets? Search Bring Fido (or its iOS app) for pet-friendly hotels and other destinations.
- Forced to leave your furry friends behind? Try Holidog or Rover, online directories of pet-sitting services.
- Looking for new pet playmates? The Tindog mobile app works just like Tinder for humans, displaying (potentially!) compatible pups in your area.
- Neighborhood animals’ social calendars already full? Dogs can play solo for hours using iFetch, while cats can choose from a bevy of mobile app games designed just for them.
On a more serious note, apps like Petfinder or AllPaws can help unite pets and people, while Finding Rover (whose feline equivalent, Finding Kitty, is currently being developed) uses facial recognition software to reunite pets with their loving families. And if you have an animal at home, Red Cross Pet First Aid—with its step-by-step instructions for emergency care and directory of accredited veterinary hospitals—might be the best 99 cents you ever spend in the app store. (Click on the image to the left for download links.)
As with human technology, some of the newest trends are in wearables (FitBark and PetPace, to name just two) and smart home products (e.g. iCPooch, which lets you communicate with your pet when you’re away from home, or the Smart Door from PetSafe). Robot pets were once a Jetsons fantasy; now they’re very much a reality, and available at a store near you. What will be next? A translation device that enables dogs to “talk”? A kennel outfitted with a treadmill and a tablet? Anything is paw-sible!
Coming Together is an annual program that seeks to build knowledge of and appreciation for the diversity represented in Skokie and Niles Township. This year’s theme, ¡Viva!, provides opportunities to explore Latino & Hispanic identity and culture through selected books and engaging programming for all ages.
The Lincolnwood Public Library is hosting a handful of events in conjunction with ¡Viva! Coming Together:
- Thursday, January 21, 10:30am: Screening of the 2002 film “Frida” at the library
- Monday, January 25, 7:30pm: Discussion of this year’s adult fiction book selection, The Book of Unknown Americans by Cristina Henríquez, at L. Woods Restaurant
- Monday, February 8, 11am: Discussion of The Book of Unknown Americans by Cristina Henríquez at the Lincolnwood Community Center
- Tuesday, February 9, 5pm: Appetizers and artist talk by Alejandro Figueredo Díaz-Perera and Cara Megan Lewis, with live music to follow, at 90 Miles Cuban Café
- Wednesday, February 17, 11:15am: Chef Demo, featuring Latino foods and live music by Gabriel Medina of the Old Town School of Folk Music, at Lincolnwood Place
- Wednesday, February 24 or Wednesday, March 2, 6pm: Taste of Ecuador interactive cooking class at Whole Foods Sauganash
This is only a small sampling of the ¡Viva! Coming Together programming that will be taking place over the next few months in Lincolnwood, Skokie, Niles, Morton Grove, and beyond. For all event listings and details, see http://comingtogether.in/events.
If you can’t make it to the events, or if attending inspires you to delve deeper into Latino/Hispanic culture, look for the books selected and recommended by the Coming Together planning committee. You can also browse digital newspapers and magazines from Mexico, Latin America, and Spain using our NewspaperDirect subscription; or check out music from the Sounds of Latin America collection on hoopla.
¡Viva! Coming Together officially kicks off on Sunday, January 31, at Niles West High School. Please join us there for a festive afternoon of music, food, art, and fun, led by emcee Lourdes Duarte of WGN-TV. ¡Celebramos!
Parents and caregivers, do you find yourselves tearing your hair out when your students faced last-minute research assignments?
In this second half of the school year, save your sanity: instead of weeding through the overwhelming amount of information found on the open web, start tapping into your library’s online resources for research and learning. The articles and ebooks available to Lincolnwood library cardholders through these subscription resources can supplement the websites recommended by schools, and they’re excellent options for home schoolers.
One of the library’s online resources, Credo Reference, is offering a virtual tour of its Literati ebook collection next week. Highlighting the best reference ebooks to help your students (ages 9 through 17) with their studies, this overview will give you a taste of the wide range of content that you can access with your library card.
The free online tour of Credo Literati starts at 7pm on Tuesday, January 19, and runs for 45 minutes. Register online here, or email firstname.lastname@example.org with the subject line “Register for Literati Webinar.”