Posts Tagged ‘In the News’

The Case for Virtual Libraries


An iPad with text sits between ordinary books in a bookshelf. The text is a page from Georg Büchner’s “Dantons Tod”. The app in charge is “iBooks”.
By Maximilian Schönherr (Own work) [GFDL or CC-BY-SA-3.0-2.5-2.0-1.0 ], via Wikimedia Commons

Technology enhances library engagement according to the Pew Research Center’s latest typology on Americans’ public library usage. Technologically-savvy Americans, even with a world of information at their fingertips, still use library services. This suggests that technology is not replacing the need for school and public libraries. But I propose taking this finding one step further: technology has the potential to increase engagement with libraries.

Consider this case: A man becomes disengaged with libraries after he graduates from college. Years later he discovers that his local library offers online services. The hassle of physically going to the library is no longer an issue or an excuse. He taps into his library’s resources with a few simple clicks. Suddenly he has access to a plethora of free content. Plus, the library’s Web site informs him of the latest library news, events, and offerings.

This man is me.

Having access to a slew of magazines and journals has had a huge impact on my life. Content on the Internet is becoming increasingly restricted to subscribers only, and I cannot afford to pay for every publication that interests me. That is no longer a worry or a source of frustration thanks to my library card. I now have access to more writer magazines and poetry journals than I have time to read. My library’s Web site has not only saved me time and money; it has also furthered my education and expanded my access to the world.

I understand that one story is merely anecdotal. I do not represent library users everywhere. But I share my story to suggest that technology is not a death sentence for libraries as is often claimed. To the contrary, the Internet is a powerful tool that libraries are using to connect with students and the public. The face of our school and public libraries may be changing, but their online services are keeping them as relevant as ever. I am proof that the Internet can increase library engagement.

With the 2014 National Library Week upon us, let’s honor the impact of libraries past, present, and future.

Tell us below how your library is harnessing the power of the Internet to increase engagement.

Worst Australian Wildfires in 50 Years Spark Climate Debate

Eucalyptus oil-laden forests, or man-made climate change? This is the current debate surrounding the wildfires raging in Australia–the nation’s worst in half a century–as the annual bushfire season is evidently growing longer and more destructive. As scientists continue to research the connection between climate and pyrogeography, harness their findings in the classroom.

Image from NASA’s Aqua satellite on October 21, 2013. Dozens of wildfires continued to burn in New South Wales, Australia. The fires had already destroyed more than 200 homes, and Australian authorities were concerned that hot, windy weather could exacerbate the situation. (Credit: NASA/Jeff Schmaltz)

Dozens of wildfires continued to burn in New South Wales, Australia on October 21, 2013. The fires had already destroyed more than 200 homes, and Australian authorities were concerned that hot, windy weather could exacerbate the situation. (Credit: NASA/Jeff Schmaltz)

Help your students understand the difference between natural variations in climate, and environmental changes that can be attributed to the impact of human beings. Put our Essential Questions to use, weighing both sides of the argument over the link between global warming and increased natural disasters. Explore a wealth of point-of-view articles offering varying stances on the debate, or discover the natural disaster content available through SIRS’ WebSelect–a collection of editorial, hand-selected websites that will support any classroom lesson.

As the hotly debated topics of climate change and global warming burn on, enable your students to hop off the fence, and land where their analysis takes them.



Discoverer In the News: Doping in Baseball

Fans Watching Baseball Game <br \> by U.S. Navy, via ProQuest SIRS Government Reporter [Public Domain]

Fans Watching Baseball Game
by U.S. Navy, via ProQuest SIRS Government Reporter [Public Domain]

Lots of people are baseball fans in the United States. Many even consider it to be the national pastime! Families attend games, buy some peanuts or popcorn,  and cheer for their favorite team while “Take Me Out to the Ballgame” rings throughout the stadium. Kids across the nation play baseball or softball in their hometowns–perhaps trying to throw a ball like their favorite shortstop, pitch like their favorite pitcher, or swing a bat like their favorite home-run hitter.

What happens when we find out that some players in the nation’s favorite sport are taking drugs to play better? Taking performance-enhancing drugs is illegal in baseball because it gives an unfair advantage to those who take them. But there are players who ignore the rules and decide to use steroids or other drugs to enhance their game. This is not a new issue–players have been taking drugs in baseball since its earliest days and into the 21st century. But recently, doping in sports has been in the news a lot. On August 5, Major League Baseball suspended 12 players for using illegal substances. Learn more about this topic and the players involved in SIRS Discoverer In the News. Quiz yourself and consider the meaning of a political cartoon illustrating this issue.

Newspapers — They’re What’s Happening

Among the vast collections of resources in eLibrary are hundreds of local, national and international newspapers. On the surface, this content may not seem to have the Wow Factor of more comprehensive or visually enticing media. But newspapers do something like no other resource: They bring the new.

Newspapers have scoop on olinguitos

eLibrary’s newspapers have the scoop on olinguitos

Case in Point: On August 15, 2013—less than a week prior to the date of this post—the Smithsonian Museum of Natural History announced the discovery of whole new species of mammal. The olinguito is the first American carnivore to be identified in 35 years.

Certainly, this is a worthy topic for the science classroom. An event such as this can spark discussions and lessons ranging from the scientific classification of animals to the evolution of various mammals to the role olinguitos play in their rapidly changing ecosystem.

And what kid of any age wouldn’t want to learn about a critter CNN described as “a cross between a house cat and a teddy bear?”

But how can one take advantage of this breaking news story? What resource can deliver related content right now?

Fear not—newspapers have your back.

Just last week only a handful of biologists in the world had heard of the olinguito. Yet today, thanks to the Charleston Gazette, your students can tell you that it’s “a bushy-tailed tree-dwelling carnivore.”

Since they have access to the The Gainesville Sun, eLibrary users are aware that the olinguito “leaps through the … mountainous forests of Ecuador and Colombia at night.”

And though one won’t find this information in any textbook or encyclopedia, a researcher with our product knows that olinguitos weigh “as much as a guinea pig,” that they “dine on fruits… and plant nectar,” and that their “population is estimated to be in the tens of thousands,” all due to the fine journalism of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.

Yes, newspapers may not be as flashy as some other material. But they put the Now in research and the Timely in teaching. So browse this valuable resource and check out what’s hot-off-the-presses in eLibrary.

— Erick Sinkhorn

Discoverer In the News: Voting Rights Act

March for Black Suffrage

Demonstrators participating in a march for black suffrage.
by Bruce Davidson/Library of Congress, via ProQuest SIRS Discoverer [Public Domain]

The 15th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, ratified in 1870, gave African American men the right to vote. But some people in Southern states did not agree with the amendment, and so passed discriminatory laws that made it hard for African Americans to cast their votes. Some parts of the South enacted a poll tax or forced black people to take a literacy test. Sometimes white Southerners harassed or intimidated African Americans when they tried to register to vote.

Almost 100 years later, as a result of the Civil Rights Movement, the Voting Rights Act was passed. This 1965 civil law made voter discrimination illegal. So all of the local election rules that made it difficult for African Americans to register to vote or cast a vote were now against national law.

The Voting Rights Act has been upheld by Congress several times. However, in June 2013, the Supreme Court declared Section 4 of the Voting Rights Act unconstitutional. Section 4 prohibits states with a history of voter discrimination from making new election rules without special permission. Some people agree with this decision, others do not.

What do you think of this controversial decision? Check out this month’s “Discoverer In the News” feature and decide for yourself. Quiz yourself on the Voting Rights Act and decipher the meaning of an editorial cartoon on this topic.

Discoverer In the News: NSA Scandal

Computer Keyboard and Hard Drive <br > Defense Logistics Agency, via ProQuest SIRS Government Reporter [Public Domain]

Computer Keyboard and Hard Drive
by Defense Logistics Agency, via ProQuest SIRS Government Reporter [Public Domain]

The U.S. Department of Defense’s National Security Agency, known as the NSA, has the authority to gather information on foreign terrorists and spies through extensive computer and phone surveillance. This power is monitored by Congress and the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISC), and many rules govern this surveillance, such as acquiring warrants to access phone records. But the agency’s practices have been in question, such as in 2006, when  Americans learned that the agency was tapping the nation’s phone conversations.

On June 6, the details of a classified NSA program called PRISM were leaked to the press. Edward Snowden, who worked for the NSA, thought that this program was unethical and wanted the American people to know that their online privacy was being invaded. So he shared secret information about PRISM with journalists. He told the press that, through the PRISM program, NSA workers could access the main servers of nine U.S. Internet companies, meaning that the agency could view emails, videos, audio, photographs, and other documents of both U.S. citizens and people living in other countries.

Some people are supporting Snowden’s decision to reveal what he knows about PRISM. They believe, as he did, that the program violates Americans’ privacy rights. Others are calling Snowden a traitor, trusting that the U.S. government is doing what is necessary to protect the American people. What do you think? Visit this month’s Discoverer In the News, read over the article, and decide for yourself. Check out the accompanying editorial cartoon…what does it say about government surveillance and privacy rights?

Discoverer In the News: North Korea

Propaganda in North Korea <br \> By John Pavelka/Wikimedia Commons/CCA-SA-Lic. 2.0, via ProQuest SIRS Discoverer [Public Domain]

Propaganda in North Korea
By John Pavelka/Wikimedia Commons/CCA-SA-Lic. 2.0, via ProQuest SIRS Discoverer [Public Domain]

North Korea and South Korea have a shared language and a shared history. Despite these bonds, the two countries have been at odds since 1948, when Korea was permanently divided into two very different countries following World War II: North Korea became a communist country, South Korea became a republic. Both nations wanted to reunify Korea under its own established government.  In 1950, North Korea invaded South Korea, starting the Korean War and tearing families apart. Although a ceasefire agreement was signed three years later, relations between the two countries remain tense even today. The United States continues to have a military presence in South Korea, protecting this democratic nation from its northern neighbors. South Korea has thrived as a nation and enjoys a healthy economy and strong industry, while the totalitarian leadership of North Korea continues to starve and control its population, grow its army, and develop its nuclear weapons program.

Visit SIRS Discoverer‘s In the News and learn more about North Korea and its troubled relationship with South Korea and the United States. Do you know anything about the nation’s leadership? Quiz yourself to find out.

Discoverer in the News: Terror in Boston

"The Massachusetts State House displays a Boston Strong banner during the 2013 World Series." <br \>  By Albany NY [CC BY-SA 3.0], via Wikimedia Commons

“The Massachusetts State House displays a Boston Strong banner during the 2013 World Series.”
By Albany NY [CC BY-SA 3.0], via Wikimedia Commons

The distinguished Boston Marathon has been a significant part of the city’s history since 1897. The event is the world’s oldest annual marathon, and may also be one of the most popular. More than half a million people watch the marathon each year, and more than 20,000 people from 96 countries participate. Not just anyone can run in the Boston Marathon: it is the only major marathon with a qualifying time and other requirements.

On April 15, 2013, tragedy struck this heralded institution. At about 2:50 p.m.–four hours into the race, when a large group of runners finish–a bomb exploded near the finish line. Ten seconds later, another bomb exploded. Three people were killed and more than 260 people were injured. In the face of uncertainty and grave danger, many police officers, firefighters, emergency medical technicians, and civilians rushed to help the injured. Learn more about the Boston Marathon and the tragic events of the 2013 race in this month’s Discoverer In the News.

Discoverer in the News: Pope Francis

Vatican City <br \> by the Perry-Castaneda Library Map Collection, via ProQuest SIRS Discoverer [Public Domain]

Vatican City
by the Perry-Castaneda Library Map Collection, via ProQuest SIRS Discoverer [Public Domain]

In February 2013, Pope Benedict XVI made an historic announcement: he would resign from his post. A few weeks later, the papal conclave met to elect a new pope. On March 13, a smoke signal from the Vatican City’s Sistine Chapel alerted the world that a decision had been made: Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio would be the new pope. A few days later, following in Catholic tradition, he changed his name to Pope Francis, in honor of St. Francis of Assisi.

Did you know that Pope Francis studied chemistry when he was in high school? And that he always traveled by bus or subway in the city of his birth? Visit Discoverer In the News to learn more about Pope Francis and his life, pre-papal career, and priorities as pope. And if you think you know in what country Pope Francis was born, take this month’s In the News Challenge and see if you are correct! Also, check out the cartoon in the ChallengeQuest and test your analytical skills.

Discoverer In the News: U.S. Postal Service

Poster advertisement for Pony Express <br\ > by National Park Service, via ProQuest SIRS Government Reporter [Public Domain]

Poster advertisement for Pony Express
by National Park Service, via ProQuest SIRS Government Reporter [Public Domain]

There’s a lot to know about the United States Postal Service (USPS), which has been a longtime cornerstone of the nation.The agency has been delivering mail to the nation’s people since 1775! And did you know that Benjamin Franklin was the first postmaster general? And that the Postal Service helped westward expansion? The USPS may have a colorful history, but this institution is financially struggling. Some people feel that the Postal Service is not as important to daily life as it once was. Last month, the USPS announced a controversial plan to cut back on Saturday deliveries of mail.

Visit SIRS Discoverer’s In the News (scroll down) to learn more about the Postal Service and why Saturday letter deliveries may stop. Challenge yourself with a quiz question on the Postal Service, and check your analytical skills what this month’s featured editorial cartoon and associated Challenge Quest