Posts Tagged ‘Summer vacation’

I Used ProQuest Products to Enrich My Summer Vacation — in Amsterdam!

One of the things I love about working for ProQuest is how much I learn and how I have been able to incorporate some of what I’ve learned into my personal life, including, most recently, my summer vacation.

Last summer, I blogged about the Register’s Annual Great Bicycle Ride Across Iowa (RAGBRAI), and while researching RAGBRAI, I learned how local libraries helped make lives easier for the cyclists.

Hearing the enthusiastic responses from the librarians in Iowa about the RAGBRAI summer cycling event inspired me to plan and partake in my own bicycle adventure.

From Inspiration to Reality

This summer, I took my son to Amsterdam, a city famous for cycling. There, we spent eight days biking around the city and getting in touch with our Dutch roots — our ancestors immigrated from Holland to New York, some 300 years ago, when it was called New Amsterdam. (And, yes, I even learned a bit about New Amsterdam via a ProQuest eLibrary Research Topic page called Dutch Colonies in America!)

House Boat Living

House Boat Interior

View from my bedroom window on our house boat on the Amstel River in Amsterdam. The boat had two bedrooms, two bathrooms, a living room, dining area and stocked kitchen. (Credit: Amy Shaw)

Before our trip, I remembered something else I had learned at work. From ProQuest’s CultureGrams, I had read about how some Dutch people live in house boats (CultureGrams has a neat slideshow and video on house boats in the Netherlands.) So, for our grand adventure, my son and I decided to do as the Dutch do and stayed in our very own house boat. (And, it even came with bikes!)

I was told by an Amsterdammer (or Mokummer, the nickname for a person born in Amsterdam) that the weather in their city can be quite unpredictable and that you must always have these four things with you: an umbrella, a rain jacket, a sweatshirt (or sweater) and comfortable shoes that can handle getting wet. But I already knew all that from my ProQuest research.

That said, as prepared as we were, we still managed to get drenched one day while boating in Giethoorn, a charming village of thatched-roof homes near Amsterdam. (Giethoorn is mostly car-free as the locals get around by boat instead.)

We had gotten caught in a downpour like the ones we’ve experienced in our hometown in South Florida, only the weather in Holland was much colder. But, no worries, because some restaurants will give you nice, fluffy blankets to warm up in while you eat!

Cycling in Amsterdam

Every time we parked our bikes in the city, we took a picture of our bikes and the location so we wouldn’t forget where to find them. (Credit: Amy Shaw)

As for the cycling in Amsterdam, if you’ve never done it before, you are in for a shock at the sheer numbers of bicycles (more than 800,000)! Nearly everyone rides bikes there, no matter the weather or the season. I asked a local if she even biked in the winter and she said yes, through snow or rain.

With all those cyclists, it is important to be careful and always look in all directions and especially keep an eye out for mopeds, which also share the roads and paths (fietspaden) designated for bikes.

Babboe Cargo Bike

Cargo bikes are common in the Netherlands. Some have seat belts in them for hauling children. (Credit: Amy Shaw)

Our biggest regret about Amsterdam is that our trip ended too quickly, but we will be sure to return. In the meantime, we really miss the food there, so we are making plans to try some of the Dutch recipes on CultureGrams.


Oh, and coincidentally, this year’s RAGBRAI in Iowa opens on July 22nd in Orange City, Iowa, with the theme Dutch til’ Dawn, reflecting the city’s Dutch heritage.

More Pictures

Clockwise from left: Supermarket purchase, Unusual house boat on the Amstel River, Marsh land outside Giethoorn (Credit: Amy Shaw)

Epic Video

After our trip, I found this cool music video created by a Silicon Valley family that is moving to Amsterdam. Check it out here: http://www.sfgate.com/travel/article/family-leaves-SF-epic-video-11275244.php

What Inspires You?

Learning from librarians about a cycling adventure and reading about different cultures at work inspired me to take a trip of a lifetime. What have you learned in the classroom or at work that has enriched your life in some way? Tweet us at #ProQuest.

National Music Week: 15 Museums for Music Lovers and Educators

May 7-14 2017 is National Music Week. Educators, if you’re already thinking about summer vacation, you may want to make time to visit one of these music-themed museums with loved ones soon. From country to blues to everything in between, there’s a museum for all types of music fans to enjoy. So, put down the textbooks and start planning your summer vacation with a music adventure!

  1. Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum

    Situated in the heart of Nashville, Tennessee, the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum is filled with a rich history of the best artists in country music.

    Screenshot of Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum website

    Screenshot of Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum website

  2. Musical Instrument Museum

    Located in Phoenix, Arizona, this museum is home to 6,500 displayed instruments from 200 various countries and territories around the world. In the Experience Gallery, you are encouraged to play instruments and even though 6,500 instruments are on display at a time, the collection includes a total of 16,000 musical instruments and objects.

    Screenshot of the Musical Instrument Museum website

    Screenshot of the Musical Instrument Museum website

  3. Delta Blues Museum

    Founded in 1979, this museum has its home in Clarksdale, Mississippi, near the Delta region where “the blues began.” It is the state’s oldest music museum. This is a place where you can explore exhibits on musicians like Muddy Waters and John Lee Hooker while also enjoying one of the many events or festivals hosted by the museum.

    Screenshot of the Delta Blues Museum website

    Screenshot of the Delta Blues Museum website

  4. Grammy Museum Mississippi

    Located in Cleveland, Mississippi, this museum offers interactive exhibits and experiences that bring the music achievements of Mississippians into the spotlight.

    Screenshot of Grammy Museum Mississippi website

    Screenshot of Grammy Museum Mississippi website

  5. National Music Museum

    You will find the National Music Museum in Vermillion, South Dakota, on the University of South Dakota campus. The music collection here is the most inclusive anywhere and boasts more than 15,000 instruments from all cultures and historical periods. With so much to see, a trip here can easily take an entire weekend.

    Screenshot of National Music Museum website

    Screenshot of National Music Museum website

  6. National Blues Museum

    Centered in Downtown St. Louis, Missouri, this museum celebrates the Blues and its role in shaping American history and culture. Understanding and appreciating the foundation Blues music has given so many other genres of music, this museum will engage and encourage visitors.

    Screenshot of the National Blues Museum website

    Screenshot of the National Blues Museum website

  7. Museum of Making Music

    Located in Carlsbad, California, the Museum of Making Music is dedicated to sharing the accomplishments of those who make, sell and use musical instruments and products. Unique exhibits, vibrant performances, and inspiring educational programs bring the history of this museum alive.

    Screenshot of Museum of Making Music website

    Screenshot of Museum of Making Music website

  8. Memphis Rock n Soul Museum

    Memphis, Tennessee, is where you will find this museum. Learn about the birth of rock and soul music as exhibits share how musical pioneers overcame socioeconomic and racial barriers to create music that has transcended generations.

    Screenshot of Memphis Rock n Soul Museum website

    Screenshot of Memphis Rock n Soul Museum website

  9. Rock & Roll Hall of Fame

    This iconic attraction and museum is located in Cleveland, Ohio. It brings the origin and story of rock and roll to life with hands-on activities, installations, and special exhibits.

    Screenshot of Rock & Roll Hall of Fame website

    Screenshot of Rock & Roll Hall of Fame website

  10. Motown Museum

    The flat where Berry Gordy and his family lived is now the Motown Museum. Located in Southeast Michigan, it has made its mission to “preserve, protect and present the Motown Story through authentic, inspirational and educational experiences” as stated on the Motown Museum website.

    Screenshot of the Motown Museum website

    Screenshot of the Motown Museum website

  11. International Bluegrass Music Museum

    Moving to Owensboro, Kentucky, three blocks west of its current location in Spring 2018, this museum exhibits decades of bluegrass music and the musicians who made it. The museum holds concert series to continue the legacy of bluegrass music and the Hall of Fame highlights pioneers of bluegrass.

    Screenshot of the International Bluegrass Music Museum website

    Screenshot of the International Bluegrass Music Museum website

  12. American Jazz Museum

    Planted in the jazz district of Kansas City, Missouri, this museum is a haven for those who love modern jazz. It’s an adventure for the senses as you explore exhibits, films, and events. May 26-28, 2017 is the KC Jazz & Heritage Festival.

    Screenshot of the American Jazz Museum website

    Screenshot of the American Jazz Museum website

  13. American Banjo Museum

    Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, is home to this museum. Dedicated to appreciation for the banjo, you can learn about the instrument’s impact on bluegrass, folk and world music while also viewing decorated banjos of the 1920s and 1930s. This museum contains the largest collection of banjos on public display in the world.

    Screenshot of the American Banjo Museum website

    Screenshot of the American Banjo Museum website

  14. Grammy Museum at L.A. Live

    Located in Los Angeles, California, The Grammy Museum celebrates the creative process behind making music and the history of the Grammy Awards. Includes more than two dozen exhibits spanning a diverse selection of music.

    Screenshot of the Grammy Museum at L.A. Live website

    Screenshot of the Grammy Museum at L.A. Live website

  15.  Stax Museum of American Soul Music

    In Memphis, Tennessee, at the original site of the Stax Records studio you will find the Stax Museum. This museum proudly states it’s the “world’s only museum dedicated to preserving and promoting the legacy of American soul music.”

Screenshot of the Stax Museum of American Soul Music website

Screenshot of the Stax Museum of American Soul Music website


What does National Music Week mean to you? Share your thoughts on Twitter with #ProQuest or leave us a comment below.

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Poll: Is the Educator’s Summer Vacation a Myth?


CC0 Public Domain, via Pixabay

After they met, they sipped sangria and studied each other. He seemed to have potential.

“So, what do you do for work?” he asked.

“I’m a teacher,” she said.

“Oh, it must be so nice to have summers off!” he said.

Her sangria-spiked blood boiled. His insipid, small-talk question was forgivable; his moronic response to her answer was not.

She flung sangria into his face. Fruit and red wine ran down his head. His shirt stained. He looked wounded, bloodied. She immediately regretted her behavior: she just wasted sangria.


Sans the sangria, has this scenario ever happened to you?

Of course it has.

It seems like everyone thinks educators spend their summers sunning themselves and sipping sangria at the beach. Nice, right? If only it were true. Last summer, an article on the Atlantic.com declared that a teacher’s summer vacation is a myth. Many educators actually spend the majority of their summers writing lesson plans, attending conferences, taking continuing education classes, teaching summer school, or working second jobs. Does this sound familiar?

Is the educator’s summer vacation really just a myth? Take our poll.


School’s Out for Summer


Bowley Elementary’s Last Day of School
[Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Across the nation there is a collective sigh of relief as the school year wraps up, and that sigh is not coming from the students. Another school year is in the books, and no one is more excited than the faculty and staff.

So let’s flip the script. Instead of tasking your students with that age-old assignment, “What I Did on My Summer Vacation,” I’m asking you to share your summer plans with us.

I asked some of my teacher and librarian friends about their summer plans. These were some of their responses:

“My kids and I will be taking advantage of the free admission to the Museum of Discovery and Science in Ft. Lauderdale.”—Jessica D., elementary school teacher in Palm Beach County, Florida. In the South Florida area—and throughout the state of Florida—many attractions offer teachers free admission either for the year or for the summer months. This site lists some of the discounts offered to educators in the state of Florida. What’s offered in your state?

“I’m loading the kids and the dog in the car, and we are going on a road trip to Michigan. “—Amy B. , teacher with Florida Virtual School. Memorial Day weekend officially kicked off the summer travel season, with an estimated 38 million Americans hitting the road according to the American Automobile Association of America (AAA). Those numbers are expected to remain high throughout the summer thanks to the lowest gas prices in a decade.

“Every summer I plan on relaxing and not scheduling anything, but that usually only lasts a few days before I get caught up in running errands and completing projects around the house.”—Rachael D., high school teacher in Broward County, Florida. Contrary to what some may think, it is not all fun and games over the summer. In addition to household chores, many teachers spend time preparing their lesson plans and their classrooms for the upcoming school year.

Whatever your plans this summer, stay safe and enjoy the break. Let us know what you have planned! Tweet us using #ProQuest or comment below.

Summer Vacation: Too Long or Just Right?

At this time of the year, most students and teachers are enjoying the start of a nice, long summer vacation.  In the United States, summer vacation lasts between two and three months. Some people argue that students lose too much knowledge during the long break, and many states are considering plans to extend the school year in an effort to boost student achievement rates. Check out SIRS Issues Researcher to read the different perspectives on the issue in articles like Will Longer School Year Help or Hurt US Students? and States Pledge to Expand School Hours, Days. Give us your thoughts on school schedules. Would you be in favor of a longer school year? What type of school schedule would be best for students and parents?

Get Crafty with SIRS Discoverer


Activities Page in ProQuest SIRS Discoverer

Summer is time of fun and exploration. Extra time is an opportunity for students to explore their artistic talents through crafts and projects. Crafts enable a young person to develop creativity, social skills (if they work with a peer), task completion, and emotive expression through art. SIRS Discoverer offers a plethora of projects for summer fun. Under activities, explore art, food, health, history, home, reading, science, and social issues projects. The only limit is one’s imagination!


Vacationing at a National Park with Family or Friends This Summer?

Visiting a national park is great way to learn about science and nature, whether it’s in the field of biology, ecology, or geology. There are 58 national parks in the U.S. national park system all with unique land features and ecosystems. Yellowstone National Park, our first national park, has some of the most diverse and spectacular features of any park in our country. Vast valleys spiked with sagebrush and indian paintbrush and lofty mountains peaks with alpine tundra support a host of wildlife including grizzly bears, gray wolves, bison, and elk. However, Yellowstone is most notable for its remarkable hydrothermal wonders of geysers, mudpots, and hot springs. 

Grand Prismatic Spring in the Midway Geyser Basin in Yellowstone


In contrast, Everglades National Park in southern Florida features miles and miles of subtropic wetlands and is home to rare and endangered species such as the American crocodile, West Indian manatee, and the Florida panther. The Everglades also contains the largest mangrove ecosystem in the western hemisphere.

Mangrove Forest in the Everglades


Although Yosemite National Park was not the first park in our country’s national park system, it was the first to inspire naturalist John Muir to promote the national park idea and the work toward creation of the United States National Park Service. Consequently, Yosemite was designated a national park in 1890, 14 years after Yellowstone’s designation. His studies on the geology and glaciers of Yosemite led to the accepted theory of the formation of Yosemite’s vast and dramatic valleys by glacial movement.

To find out more about our national parks, a good place to start is the National Parks magazine. You can simply click on the Publications tab at the top of the Basic Search page

Basic Search

and browse through each issue, or do an advanced search by inserting the magazine’s title in the Publication Name field at the bottom of the Advanced Search page, then search by keyword.

Another way of finding resources is through the Topics tab at the top of the search page. Simply click through on Reference, Regional Studies, Countries of the World, North America, United States, and Geography to find information on National Parks.

There’s also the Browse Research Topics function on the Basic Search page where most national parks are covered.


Basic Search and Browse Research

Simply click on Browse Research Topic, click on the appropriate letter, then browse through all the topics alphabetically until you find the park you’re interested in.

More on national parks:

National Parks

–Tim Woodring