Posts Tagged ‘SIRS WebSelect’

Martin Luther King, Jr. Day

“Violence ends up defeating itself. It creates bitterness in the survivors and brutality in the destroyers….Nonviolence is a powerful and just weapon. Indeed, it is a weapon unique in history, which cuts without wounding and ennobles the man who wields it.”
Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Nobel Lecture, December 11, 1964

Stone of Hope at the Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial

Stone of Hope at the Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial (public domain)
via National Park Service

The winner of the Nobel Peace Prize, a man who spent his life promoting nonviolent methods of social change to end segregation and discrimination and help African Americans gain their civil rights, was himself a victim of violence when he was assassinated outside his Memphis hotel room on the evening of April 4, 1968. Four days later, Michigan Congressman John Conyers introduced the first legislation providing for a Martin Luther King, Jr. federal holiday to honor King’s life and achievements. Dr. King’s widow, Coretta Scott King, headed the mission to rally popular support for a King Holiday. She worked for years, testifying before Congress, launching petition drives, and urging governors, mayors, and chairpersons of city councils across the U.S. to pass resolutions to honor her husband’s birthday on January 15.

While some individual states passed laws honoring Dr. King with a legal holiday, the idea of a federal holiday faced opposition and stirred controversy. Finally, in 1983, the legislation declaring the third Monday in January a federal legal holiday commemorating Dr. King’s birthday was signed by President Ronald Reagan. It was observed for the first time on January 20, 1986, though many states continued to boycott the holiday. It was not until 1999 that New Hampshire became the last state to make it a paid state holiday.

The only federal holiday commemorating an African-American is now celebrated each year as a remembrance of Dr. King’s life and work, and with people joining together to honor the civil rights leader’s memory through volunteer service to make an impact on their local and global communities.

You can learn more about the life and legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and the King Holiday by visiting these websites, available through SIRS Issues Researcher:

Dr. Martin Luther King Day

The King Center

Martin Luther King Day of Service

Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial

Martin Luther King, Jr., National Historic Site

Martin Luther King, Jr. Research and Education Institute

New Year’s by the Numbers

New Year's Eve Times Square

New Year’s Eve at Times Square
Photo credit: Anthony Quintano / iWoman / CC BY

How do you ring in the New Year? 62 percent of Americans say they stay home on New Year’s Eve, spending it with family and friends, 22% admit to falling asleep before midnight, while around 10% don’t celebrate the holiday at all. Common traditions include attending parties, eating special New Year’s foods, watching fireworks displays and making resolutions for the new year. While 45% of Americans make resolutions, only about 8% achieve them. Many people commemorate the arrival of the New Year with a champagne toast, judging by the 360 million glasses of sparkling wine that are consumed in the U.S. each year during the holiday season. Around a million people crowd into New York City’s Times Square on New Year’s Eve to watch the iconic lighted ball drop–joined by nearly 6 in 10 Americans and a billion others globally who view all or some of the televised broadcast of the festivities.

Float at Rose Bowl Parade.

Float at Rose Bowl Parade
Photo credit: Joe Mac1 / IWoman / CC BY

On New Year’s Day, many American cities hold parades. Since 1906, the people of Philadelphia have celebrated the New Year with a parade that features 15,000 Mummers in colorful and lavish costumes who dance, spin and twirl down Broad Street after a year of secret planning. This year marks the 126th Rose Bowl Parade in Pasadena, California, which includes floral floats and marching bands and is viewed by over 80 million people around the world. The average float contains more flowers than a typical American florist will sell in five years, with up to 18 million flowers used to create all the floats that appear in the parade.

SIRS Knowledge Source offers editorially-selected and credible internet resources on vital issues and topics. You can search for sites by keyword/natural language, subject headings, or topic. Check out some of the sites below to find more information on the history and traditions of the New Year’s holiday.

New Year’s

New Year’s Traditions

New Year’s Eve in Times Square

Pasadena Tournament of Roses

April Training Webinars Posted

Libraries see surge in e-book demandNow’s a great time to catch up on the important elements of your ProQuest K-12 resources. We’ve posted our April webinars and would like to invite you to join us. Share this information also with some of your key faculty who you know would benefit from greater familiarity with your excellent ProQuest library research and learning tools. Our new public webinar page also expands your view of ProQuest possibilities. Not only may you access training for your K-12 focused resources, but you may also learn more about ProQuest’s full array of research and learning tools. Many of these have potential application in advanced secondary learning environments.

Sign up now for a class of your choice. If you don’t see the resource you’re looking for, contact us and we would be happy to schedule a private webinar with you!

February Is Teen Dating Violence Awareness Month

“Teen dating violence is a serious violation that can affect a young person’s safety, development, and sense of comfort. Perpetrated by a current or past intimate partner, dating violence takes many forms, including physical, sexual, or emotional abuse, and can occur in person or through electronic communication and social media.….Approximately 1 in 10 teenagers reports being physically or sexually victimized by a dating partner, and too many other victims do not report it….During National Teen Dating Violence Awareness and Prevention Month, we recognize the urgency needed in addressing this problem and recommit to preventing it by educating our youth about its dangers and consequences, and reaffirm the basic human right to be free from violence and abuse.”A Proclamation by President Barack Obama, January 29, 2016

February Is Teen Dating Violence Awareness Month

February Is Teen Dating Violence Awareness Month
[Public Domain] via Administration for Children & Families/
U.S. Department of Health and Human Services

While many people may think of February as Black History Month, or associate it with Valentine’s Day, it is also Teen Dating Violence Awareness Month. The teen dating violence awareness and prevention initiative was spearheaded by teenagers across the nation who organized to take a stand to stop teen dating violence. In 2005, the importance of addressing teen dating violence was highlighted by its inclusion in the reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act.

Now supported by dozens of national, state and local organizations, the call to end teen dating violence was formally recognized by both Houses of Congress in 2006 when they declared the first full week in February “National Teen Dating Violence Awareness and Prevention Week.” In 2010, Congress first dedicated the entire month of February to teen dating violence awareness and prevention.

SIRS Leading Issue: Dating Violence/Date Rape by ProQuest LLC <br /> via ProQuest SIRS Issues Researcher

SIRS Leading Issue: Dating Violence/Date Rape
by ProQuest LLC via ProQuest SIRS Issues Researcher

Facilitate student research on teen dating violence by directing them to SIRS Researcher’s Leading Issue: Dating Violence. The SIRS Leading Issues feature offers comprehensive coverage of over 350 of the most researched and newsworthy topics for student researchers. Editorially created Topic Overview pages help build a solid foundation for understanding the issue through its background and history and by putting it into context. Terms to Know and Additional Resources are also available here. The Perspectives section features quotes from prominent figures on the issue, as well as Critical Thinking & Analysis questions to facilitate discussion. Essential Questions promote Common Core-aligned standards such as critical thinking, problem solving, information literacy and analytical skills that students need to succeed. Other research tools include a Timeline, and Global Impact and Statistics sections.

Delve into more information and resources on teen dating violence at these editorially-selected websites available on SIRS WebSelect:

Break the Cycle

Love Is Respect: National Teen Dating Abuse Helpline

That’s Not Cool

10 Things About the King

Elvis Presley rose from humble beginnings to become the ‘King of Rock and Roll.’ He remains an international pop culture icon almost 40 years after his death. On the eve of his 81st birthday, here are 10 things you may or may not know about Elvis:

Elvis Presley's Birthplace, Tupelo, Mississippi

Elvis Presley’s Birthplace, Tupelo, Mississippi [public domain]
Photographs in the Carol M. Highsmith Archive via Library of Congress

1. Elvis Aaron Presley was born on January 8, 1935 in a two-room house in Tupelo, Mississippi to Gladys Love (Smith) and Vernon Elvis Presley. He had a stillborn identical twin brother, named Jessie Garon.

2. Presley, who never received formal music training or learned to read music, studied and played by ear. He identified the Pentecostal church as his primary source of musical training.

3. When he was 13 years old, he and his family moved to Memphis, Tennessee. His music career began there in 1954, when he recorded a song with producer Sam Phillips at Sun Records.

Sun Records Studio, Memphis, Tennessee

Sun Records Studio, Memphis, Tennessee [public domain]
by Carol M. Highsmith via Library of Congress

4. In December of 1957, Elvis was drafted into the U.S. Army. Three girls from Montana wrote a letter to President Eisenhower in which they begged him not to give Elvis a G.I. haircut and cut off his sideburns.

5. While he was in the Army and stationed in Germany, he met 14-year-old Priscilla Ann Beaulieu. They married eight years later, on May 1, 1967, at the Aladdin Hotel in Las Vegas.

6. Elvis is the best-selling solo artist in the history of recorded music, selling more than 1 billion recordings worldwide.

7. His only child Lisa Marie Presley was born on February 1, 1968. Ironically, the daughter of the ‘King of Rock and Roll’ was briefly married to Michael Jackson, the ‘King of Pop.’

Richard M. Nixon Shaking Hands with Entertainer Elvis Presley in the Oval Office

Richard M. Nixon Shaking Hands with Entertainer Elvis Presley in the Oval Office
[public domain] via White House Photo Office/National Archives and Records Service

8. On December 21, 1970, Presley visited President Richard Nixon in the Oval Office. The photo of Nixon and Elvis shaking hands in the White House is the most-requested image in the holdings of the National Archives.

Visitors Pass by the Presleys' Graves--Graceland (Elvis Presley Mansion)

Visitors Pass by the Presleys’ Graves–Graceland (Elvis Presley Mansion)
by Adam Jones on Flickr is licensed under CC BY 2.0

9. Elvis died at age 42 at his Memphis home on August 16, 1977. Elvis bought the mansion named Graceland in 1957 for $100,000. It was opened for tours in 1982, and since then an average of 500,000 visitors pay tribute annually.

10. Elvis was buried twice. Elvis was originally placed in a crypt next to his mother, Gladys, at the Forest Hill Cemetery in Memphis. Shortly after, several young men attempted to steal his remains. His father Vernon then decided to move both bodies to the grounds of Graceland. He received special permission from city officials to do so, and they both rest there today.

To learn more about Elvis Presley’s life, music, legacy, and his lasting influence on American culture, visit ProQuest’s eLibrary Research Topic page, or one of these editorially selected websites, available on SIRS WebSelect:

Elvis Presley

One Life: Echoes of Elvis

When Nixon Met Elvis

Conservation Lessons from Monterey Bay

I love Monterey, California. It is my favorite place in the world, primarily because of its natural beauty and abundant wildlife. Being from the East Coast, I am always thrilled to see the sea otters, sea lions, and harbor seals that inhabit the bay. After viewing a recent PBS special celebrating the diverse marine life converging off California’s coast, I realized that a great way to help students understand the importance of marine conservation is to teach them about the revival of Monterey Bay.

Humpback Whale at Monterey Bay

Humpback Whale at Monterey Bay
By Chananst (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0], via Wikimedia Commons


Monterey Bay may be brimming with wildlife now, but that wasn’t always the case. Today, southern sea otters, also known as California sea otters are some of the most easily seen marine mammals in the bay. I’ve spotted sea otters along the Monterey Bay Coastal Recreation Trail from Cannery Row to Old Fisherman’s Wharf, while on the Elkhorn Slough Safari boat tour in Moss Landing, and from the Monterey Bay Aquarium’s ocean-view deck. It is hard to believe that these charismatic creatures were almost exterminated for their luxurious fur.

Sea Otter in Moss Landing

Sea Otter in Moss Landing
By Agunther (Own work) [CC BY 3.0], via Wikimedia Commons


In the 1700s, fur traders began killing sea otters for their valuable pelts.  It is estimated that the population of southern sea otters numbered 16,000 before the commercial fur trade began. By the 1900s, sea otters were nearly extinct. Luckily, steps were taken to protect the plummeting population. The “International Fur Seal Treaty, which banned the hunting of sea otters and fur seals,” was signed in 1911. By the 1930s, most people thought that southern sea otters had been completely wiped out by the fur trade. However, in 1938, a group of 50 sea otters was “discovered” near the Bixby Bridge in Big Sur, California. The small group thrived–from those survivors, the population today is approximately 3,000–and expanded their range, eventually reaching Monterey Bay.

Sea otters weren’t the only animals exploited and they aren’t the only ones that have returned to the bay. Whales were heavily hunted for commercial purposes and sardines were overfished by the fish canning industry. Pollution and overharvesting caused the sardine population in Monterey Bay to collapse after World War II. The disappearance of sardines from Monterey Bay brought financial disaster to Cannery Row, the canning street made famous by author John Steinbeck. The loss was an early lesson for the community about the consequences of depleting the bay’s resources. So after decades of pollution and overfishing, how did the bay recover? Monterey Bay is healthier today than it was 50 years ago because of the efforts of environmentalists, politicians, and scientists—including Dr. Julia Platt.

Dr. Julia Platt arrived in the nearby seaside town of Pacific Grove in 1899 with a Ph.D. in marine zoology. She observed the growth of the canneries and the pollution of the bay. In 1931, she was elected mayor of Pacific Grove. She convinced the “California legislature to pass a law granting Pacific Grove the right to manage not only the town’s waterfront but also ‘certain submerged lands in the Bay of Monterey contiguous thereto.’” With that legal authority, Platt established the Hopkins Marine Life Refuge and the Pacific Grove Marine Gardens. Platt’s foresight to create refuges to protect the marine life in those areas would eventually help restore the bay’s health.

Additional conservation efforts to protect ocean habitats and wildlife also helped the bay recapture its former glory. The Marine Mammal Protection Act enacted in 1972 provided sweeping protections for sea otters, whales, sea lions, and seals. In 1977, southern sea otters were listed as threatened under the Endangered Species Act. The Monterey Bay Aquarium opened on Oct. 20, 1984. The world-class aquarium has become a global leader in ocean conservation. Public awareness raised by the aquarium’s exhibits showcasing the unique habitats and sea life of Monterey Bay sparked the designation of the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary in 1992. This federally protected marine area, often referred to as the “Serengeti of the Sea,” stretches along California’s central coast from San Francisco to Cambria. The sanctuary is home to 34 species of marine mammals and offers some of the best wildlife viewing opportunities in the world. The dramatic recovery of marine life in Monterey Bay is a conservation success story that shows what can happen when ecosystems and wildlife are given a chance to recover.

To learn more about Monterey Bay and ocean conservation, explore these resources available in SIRS WebSelect:

Classroom Resources from the Monterey Bay Aquarium

For Educators—Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary

Monterey Bay

The Origins of U.S. Libraries

Most students today, born after the Internet became widely used about 20 years ago, probably have no concept of the idea of using the printed word exclusively to do homework, reports, or research. Back in those dark days, doing almost any assignment meant a trip to the library. Without the magic of the Internet, you had to go through the process of locating an actual physical copy of a book, magazine, newspaper or microfilm that contained the exact information you wanted. Finding enough information for a simple 500-word report could take hours.

With the advent of the Internet, information databases, digital scanners, e-books, cloud-based storage and other technologies, libraries today are very different than they were even 20 years ago. On this Throwback Thursday (#TBT), we explore the origins and some of the milestone events in the development of libraries in the United States.

1638: John Harvard, a young minister in Charlestown, Massachusetts died and left his 400 volume library as well as half of his estate to the local, newly established college, originally called the New College. In his honor, the oldest institution of higher education in the United States was renamed Harvard College. The collection has since grown to about 18 million volumes.

Harvard University Campus & Library

Harvard University Campus & Library (public domain) via Library of Congress

1731: Benjamin Franklin founded the first successful lending library in the U.S. The Library Company of Philadelphia was a subscription library supported by its shareholders, as it is to this day.

Benjamin Franklin Opening First Subscription Library in Philadelphia

Benjamin Franklin Opening First Subscription Library in Philadelphia
(public domain) via Library of Congress

1814-1815: The initial collection of the Library of Congress was in ashes after the British burned it on August 24, 1814 during the War of 1812. In 1815 Congress approved the purchase of Thomas Jefferson‘s 6,487-volume library for $23,950 as the foundation to replace the one lost in the fire.

1833: The first tax-supported public library in the United States (and the world!) was founded in Peterborough, New Hampshire.

1886-1919: Industrialist and philanthropist Andrew Carnegie donated more than $40 million to pay for 1,679 new public library buildings in communities across America.

Carnegie Library, Girard, Kansas

Carnegie Library, Girard, Kansas (public domain) via National Park Service

1876: The American Library Association (ALA), the oldest and largest library association in the world, was founded. Melvil Dewey published A Classification and Subject Index for Cataloging and Arranging Books and Pamphlets in a Library, better known as the “Dewey Decimal System.”

Card Catalog

Card Catalog (public domain) via Library of Congress

1904: The nation’s first bookmobile was created to deliver books to the residents of Washington County, Maryland. The custom outfitted horse-drawn Concord wagon was the brainchild of librarian Mary Lemist Titcomb. It could display 200 volumes and store another 2,360 behind its shelves.

Washington County Mobile Library

Washington County Mobile Library, (public domain), via Wikimedia Commons

1916: The first presidential library, the Rutherford B. Hayes Presidential Center Library, opened in Fremont, Ohio.

1935: The Works Progress Administration library service program gives support in labor and funds to all types of libraries.

Photograph of Works Progress Administration Worker Receiving Paycheck

Photograph of Works Progress Administration Worker Receiving Paycheck
(public domain) via National Archives and Records Administration

1938: Eugene Power, a pioneer in microphotography, established University Microfilms. He introduced microfilm to libraries, and led the format to its standard use for preservation, sharing, and document storage.

1960’s: The Library of Congress developed Machine Readable Cataloging (MARC) in the mid-1960’s. The intent was to create a computer-readable format that could be used for bibliographic records, enabling libraries to download cataloging, share information, and search all parts of a cataloging record. The MARC format structure became an official national standard in 1971 and an international one in 1973.

To learn more about some of these events in U.S. library history, explore these websites available on SIRS WebSelect:

11 Facts About September 11

On September 11, 2001, the world changed forever when al Qaeda terrorists hijacked four American airliners and used them to carry out the deadliest terrorist attacks on American soil in U.S. history.

Here are 11 facts about September 11 that you may or may not know:

A New York City firefighter looks at the ruins of the World Trade Center at dawn on Sept. 12, 2001, a day after the terrorist attacks. (Credit: Jim Macmillan/Philadelphia Daily News/MCT)

A New York City firefighter looks at the ruins of the World Trade Center at dawn on Sept. 12, 2001, a day after the terrorist attacks.
Image by Jim Macmillan/Philadelphia Daily News/MCT via ProQuest SIRS Issues Researcher

1. A total of 2,977 people were killed–including the passengers, crew and 19 hijackers aboard the four planes, those in the World Trade Center buildings and the Pentagon. Also killed were 343 New York City firefighters, 23 New York City police officers and 37 Port Authority officers who were responding to the attacks. Another 10,000 people were treated for injuries, many seriously.

2. Ben Sliney was on his first day on the job as the FAA’s National Operations Manager on September 11. Shortly after the attacks, he made the decision to ground all aircraft within the continental U.S., and all aircraft already in flight were told to land immediately. Within four hours, almost 4,500 planes had safely landed. For the first time in history, the entire airspace over the U.S. and Canada was closed except for military, police, and medical flights, and civilian air traffic was not allowed to resume until September 13, 2001.

3. In the days following the attacks most skyscrapers in major cities across the United States were closed, along with State capitols and many government buildings surrounding them, as well as many U.S. landmarks. The stock market closed for four trading days after the attacks. Most major sporting events were canceled or postponed until after Sept 16–including Major League Baseball, NFL and collegiate football games, NASCAR races, and the 2001 Ryder Cup of golf.

4. A third skyscraper–World Trade Center Building 7–a 47-story building and one of the largest in downtown Manhattan—also fell during the attacks. The building was the site of the command center of the city’s Office of Emergency Management.

5. Only 291 dead bodies were recovered “intact” from Ground Zero.

6. It took firefighters 100 days (until December 19) to extinguish all the fires ignited by the attacks in New York.

7. The Department of Homeland Security was created in response to the attacks. It merged 22 governmental agencies into one, including the Customs Service, the Immigration and Naturalization Service, the U.S. Coast Guard and the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

8. Cleanup at Ground Zero officially ended on May 30, 2002. It took 3.1 million hours of labor to clean up 1.8 million tons of debris. The total cost of the cleanup was $750 million.

9. According to the Office of Chief Medical Examiner of the City of New York, of the 2,753 people reported missing at the World Trade Center, 1,115 victims, or 41 percent of the total, have not been identified as of May 10, 2014.

10. The National September 11 Memorial Museum opened on May 21, 2014, in New York City.

11. As a result of the attacks, September 11 is now remembered each year in the USA as Patriot Day.

SIRS WebSelect offers editorially-selected websites with resources and information for educators and students on the 9/11 attacks, as well as thousands of other subjects. Learn more about that fateful day and its aftermath at these websites:

9/11: Timeline of Events

National Commission on Terrorist Attacks Upon the United States

Remembering 9/11

Understanding 9/11: A Television News Archive


11 Awesome Libraries and Librarians!

Libraries are awesome! Did you know libraries have existed almost since the beginning of the written word? A collection of 30,000 clay tablets found in ancient Mesopotamia are said to date back more than 5,000 years.

The first great public library was the Library of Alexandria, founded around 300 BC in Egypt. One of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World, the valuable collections held there were lost when the library was destroyed. A modern version was opened in 2002 as a memorial to the spirit and scholarship of the original library.

Every great library is staffed with talented librarians. Many famous people and world leaders throughout history served as librarians before achieving recognition in other fields.

So in honor of the awesomeness of librarianship, here are 11 notable libraries and librarians throughout history:

Vatican Library

“The Sistine Hall of the Vatican Library” Photo credit: xiquinhosilva / Foter / CC BY

Vatican Library, Vatican City. Established in 1475, the library of the Holy Roman Church holds the oldest complete manuscript of the Bible, as well as over one million other printed volumes and 65,000 manuscripts. Most of the works are in either Latin or Greek.

Pope Pius XI (1857-1939). Before he became pope (from 1922 until his death in 1939), Achille Ratti was a librarian and scholar, and famously reorganized the archives in the Vatican library.

"Bodleian Library" Photo credit: Poul-Werner / Foter / CC BY

“Bodleian Library” Photo credit: Poul-Werner / Foter / CC BY

Bodleian Library, Oxford, United Kingdom. The main research library of the University of Oxford is one of the oldest in Europe, dating back to 1602. It has more than 11 million items within its walls.

The Brothers Grimm. Before they published their classic work Grimm’s Fairy Tales in 1812, Jacob (1785-1863) served as the royal librarian for Napoleon Bonaparte’s youngest brother Jerome, King of Westphalia, with brother Wilhelm (1786-1859) as his assistant.

Harvard University Library, Cambridge, Massachusetts. The oldest library system in the United States began in 1638 when John Harvard donated 260 volumes. The Harvard Library has grown to become the largest university library in the U.S, and the largest private library system in the world, with more than 18,000,000 volumes.

Mao Zedong (1893-1976). The Communist leader of the Chinese revolution and founder of the People’s Republic of China lived in Beijing as a young man, where he was an assistant librarian at the University.

Library of the Benedictine Monastery, Admont, Austria. The largest monastery library in the world was completed in 1776 and holds some 200,000 volumes, including more than 1,400 manuscripts (some dating from the 8th century) and 530 incunabula (early printed books before 1500). Some of the manuscripts were the gifts of Archbishop Gebhard of Salzburg, who founded the Monastery in 1074.

Golda Meir (1898-1978). The fourth Prime Minister of Israel (1969-1974), worked as a librarian in both Milwaukee, Wisconsin and Chicago, Illinois. The main library of the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, where she graduated in 1917, is named in her honor.

Library of Congress Reading Room

[Main Reading Room. View from above showing researcher desks. Library of Congress Thomas Jefferson Building, Washington, D.C.]
Photo credit: The Library of Congress / Foter / No known copyright restrictions

Library of Congress, Washington, D.C. Established by an act of the U.S. Congress in 1800, it is the largest library in the world, holding millions of books, recordings, photographs, maps and manuscripts in its collections.

J. Edgar Hoover (1895-1972). The Director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation from 1924 until his death in 1972 put himself through law school at George Washington University by working at the Library of Congress as a messenger, cataloguer and clerk.

Laura Bush Portrait. White House photo by Krisanna Johnson [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Laura Bush Portrait.
White House photo by Krisanna Johnson [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Laura Bush (1946-). The former First Lady earned her Master’s degree in Library Science from the University of Texas at Austin in 1973 after working as an elementary school teacher. She worked in both school and public libraries in her home state of Texas.

Find more information on some of these renowned libraries and prominent librarians in these websites offered on SIRS WebSelect. All sites are selected, curated and updated daily by SIRS editors to ensure quality and accessibility. Or you can easily create your own search using keywords, natural language or subject headings to explore this topic or virtually any other classroom lesson.

The Vatican Library

The Library of Congress

J. Edgar Hoover

Laura Bush

Benjamin Franklin: Founding Librarian

Benjamin Franklin

Portrait of Benjamin Franklin by Artist David Martin
(Credit: Library of Congress, via ProQuest SIRS Issues Researcher)


We all know Benjamin Franklin for his exhaustive list of achievements, including his role as one of the Founding Fathers of the United States. But there is a lesser-known accomplishment on Franklin’s resume: Franklin founded the Library Company of Philadelphia on July 1, 1731.

The Library Company was created for one simple reason: to expand access to books. Books in Colonial America were expensive and scarce. There were no public libraries. Franklin and members of his discussion group, Junto, were frustrated because they did not have enough books available to cultivate their intellectual and political debates. So the Library Company used membership dues to purchase books. The Library Company’s book collection eventually became an integral source for delegates to the First and Second Constitutional Congress and the Constitutional Convention.

Library Company

The Library Company of Philadelphia,
1314 Locust Street, Philadelphia, PA 19107.
By Davidt8 (Own work) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Greater access to books nurtured great minds like Benjamin Franklin. As we commemorate Independence Day on July 4th, let’s also celebrate the role that libraries serve in our democracy.

To learn more about Benjamin Franklin, check out these sites featured on SIRS WebSelect:

Benjamin Franklin: Glimpses of the Man

Benjamin Franklin: How I Became a Printer

Benjamin Franklin’s Junto Club & Lending Library of Philadelphia

The Electric Ben Franklin