Monday, March 31, 2008

Yes and No

We have answers!
Do you proctor exams? No, we do not offer that service at any of our libraries.
Do you offer notary service? No, not at any building.
Do you have wireless Internet? Yes, at all 6 buildings.
What do I need to use the Internet? A Des Moines Public Library card, use is free.
Can I print from the Internet? Yes, .10 per page, all buildings.
Do you have a scanner or fax machine? No, not offered at any of our libraries.
Do you have a color copier? Yes, the Central Library does and the cost is $1 per page.
Do you have tax forms? No, not at any of the libraries.
For other questions about the services we offer, please call us at 283-4152 and press 3.

Thank you!

Friday, March 28, 2008

You like the mysteries funny?

If you like a mystery with a bit of humor, check out the Myron Bolitar series by Harlan Coben. Each one stands alone, but it's fun to see how it all starts if you want to read them in order. The hero is a former basketball player turned sports agent. And guess what! Mysteries are always falling in his lap! He has the gorgeous assistant (moving up to partner) the dangerous sidekick (refined blond preppie/deadly sociopath), and usually the mysteries are sports related. Because he's actually a sports agent! Clever! The characters are lots of fun and the mysteries are good. So far Coben's written 8 and I hope he's just keeps going. Here are the titles, from first to last.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Moments Before the Heimlich

What are the chances that cherry is going down smoothly? Here's hoping it does - then that little girl will reap all sorts of health benefits. According to Men's Health, sour cherries lowered the risk of a group of conditions that have been linked to heart disease. University of Michigan researchers found that whole tart cherries lowered the risk of metabolic syndrome. Among other things, metabolic syndrome includes insulin resistance and obesity. Researchers suggest plant chemicals called anthocyanins may be responsible for the cherries good stuff. You generally won't find fresh tart cherries like hers in the grocery store, so look for the dried or frozen varieties. Or buy the juice. If she can get that baby down, she'll thank us later.

Sources: Men's Health, Sep. 2007, Vol. 22, Issue 7
American Heritage Medical Dictionary p. 802

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Librarians Learning

Yesterday the 12th National Convention of the Public Library Association begins. Are you excited yet? Here are a few of the topics to be addressed:

What Does It Take to Be
Good at Reference in the
Age of Google

Dewey or Don’t We (I did not make this one up)

Marketing Without Money
All chock-full of useful information. Because you know we weren't born knowing this stuff. Please be patient with us this week since we're short staffed while some are out there learning like fiends. Now I'm sure you're excited.

Monday, March 24, 2008

Baseball Now

Way too cold for professional baseball games to start but tomorrow's game is in Japan, so maybe it's warmer there. Boston Red Sox play the Oakland A's. Abner Doubleday might look askance, but perhaps he didn't have the global point of view on this. Hey, if you are hitting some games this year and would like to know where the good seats are, we have a book all about stadiums. The layout, which seats have the best view, and where to park are all included. It's called The Complete Four Sport Stadium Guide and both the Franklin Avenue Library and the Central Library own it. You can plan your dream baseball tour! Whether you can go our not.

Saturday, March 22, 2008

There's Only So Much Blue Can Do

So what deadly substance is the hermetically sealed man holding? Hepatitis? Typhoid? Meningitis? No, he has actual live virus of the strain that caused the influenza epidemic of 1918. In that year the Spanish Flu killed more than 500,000 people in the United States and up to 50 million worldwide. Dr. Terrence Tumpey re-created the virus in order to discover just how it killed so many people so quickly. Many died within the first few days of the infection. So we don't mess with the flu, people. We can't all be issued blue duds and our own air supply. Although you do wonder about his ears...

Books on the Spanish Flu and Other Epidemics
Epidemics and pandemics : their impacts on human history by J. N. Hays
Influenza 1918 : the worst epidemic in American history by Lynette Iezzoni ;
Plagues & poxes : the impact of human history on epidemic disease by Alfred Jay Bollet.

Source: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Public Health Image Library.

Friday, March 21, 2008


In March you see lambs everywhere! Greeting cards, advertising, decorations. So let's talk sheep. Your basic domestic model is thought to be descended from everyone's favorite, the mouflon. Sheep are found all over the world - they are the most widespread domesticated animal. Some can store fat in their tails. They are called, oddly enough, Fat-tailed sheep. Did you know all sheep have four stomachs? You'd think the Fat-taileds wouldn't need that many, what with the back end storage. But they've got 'em. Go figure.
Happy March 23!
Source: Funk & Wagnalls New World Encyclopedia

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Local History Wiki!

Des Moines History Buffs! Such a deal we have for you! Have you seen mention of a wiki on our web site? The link: Local History Wiki . Go ahead, click on it! Here are some treasures:
An index to our set of biographical newspaper clippings. Look up a person, find out which volume has their clippings, stop in at the Central Library and the folks at the Reference Desk willl help you find the volume. Okay, lots of steps, but trust me this is fabulous information you won't find anywhere else. The index is not quite done, but there are many entries already.
Baseball fan? We have a pretty darn complete list of Des Moines baseball teams and that list usually includes the coach's name and the season's record. Did you know there was a year in which the Des Moines team had three names? Neither did I.

We're just getting started, keep checking back. Local History Rules!

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Never got into Space

Arthur C. Clarke, the mind behind 2001 a Space Odyssey, died yesterday March 18th from post-polio, at the impressive age of 90. His novel Childhood's End has been on required reading lists for years. Clarke is also credited with being the first to imagine the design and use of satellites orbiting the earth, connecting all parts of the world. Then there's "Clarke's Third Law". To wit: "Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic". Gotta love that. We who read your books in adolescence and were stunned, salute you.
Source: New York Times Online, March 19, 2008

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Anthony Minghella

Anthony Minghella died today at age 54 of post-operative complications. A multitalented figure in the film world, he wrote, directed and produced. Of his work, these movies were based on books: The Talented Mr. Ripley; Cold Mountain; and The English Patient for which he won an Academy Award for directing. So if you have alot of time, as his movies tend to be very long, check one of these out.

Source:New York Times Online 3/18/08

Monday, March 17, 2008


You'd think this would mean a stone that's really not. "Sham rock" Hilarious. But it's actually a legume, from Family Leguminosae. So it's a sibling of peas, beans, lentils, clover, and alfalfa. OK, we could have guessed the clover. But probably not the peas. Plants we Iowans know and love and have seen filling entire fields. Not to mention all the commercials we have enjoyed over the years that describe in great detail products that DESTROY anything that threatens these crops. So shamrocks should feel at home and safe here! Happy St. Patrick's!

Hutchinson Unabridged Encyclopedia

Saturday, March 15, 2008

Ireland - Geneaology and St. Patrick

According to The Chronicle of Higher Education, (so you know it's true) in a study of males they found around 20 percent of men from northwestern Ireland are related to 'Niall of the Nine Hostages'. And guess who one of his hostages was? Succat, soon to be known as St. Patrick. Could be that worldwide as many as 3 million men are descendents of this guy. So when they say everyone's Irish on on St Pat's ...
Source: Chronicle of Higher Education; 2/10/2006, Vol. 52 Issue 23, pA4-A6, 2p

Friday, March 14, 2008

Dental Schmental

Dental hygiene. It is indeed mental, because it's all in your head. Ha! So take good care of those choppers if you want to hang on to them. Which means you have to visit a dentist on a regular basis. Doesn't sound appealing? Smile for life : a guide to overcoming your fear of the dentist may help get you in that chair. And if the whole keeping your teeth thing doesn't work out there are always other options, such as the one covered in As good as new : a consumer's guide to dental implants. Remember, if a smile is your umbrella, you don't want it full of holes. Again with the Ha!

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Register yourself

There's a new service available through our freshly revised web site. You're no longer limited to the library's open hours if you want to sign up for an activity. When a library program is coming up that requires registration, you can get your name in from your very own computer. Here's how:
Click on Events/News on our homepage
Click on Calendar
Click on the date of the program and scroll to the location
Click on the link for the program – here you will see a description of the event. (If it is a youth services event, please double check that the person being signed up is within the age/grade range.)
Click on the green Sign Up button in the lower right corner
There are only 3 items of information required to register someone for a program: first name; last name; and phone number or e-mail address. You can fill out all of the screens if you like, but including the address is not necessary.
Now you can register whenever the mood hits you, whether it's at the beach (ah, someday) or at 3 AM when you're in your jammies eating ice cream. Not that people ever eat ice cream that early in the morning. I swear.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Local Info, Sometimes Old

Did I mention that we have city directories? Oh my yes we do. Every one of our six buildings carries the current Des Moines City Directory. Handy if you need to know the name of someone in your neighborhood - you can just look up the address and there they are. Also if you have a phone number and can't remember whose it is, the CD has listings by phone number.

At the Central Library we have print directories from 1910 to the current edition, with two exceptions. Due to World War I and World War II, we do not have Des Moines City Directories for 1918 or 1945. On microfilm we have CD's from 1866 to 1935. Some of the old directories on microfilm are arranged up and down rather than left to right. Plus, some reels start with the last page of the directory. Takes some getting used to, but it's kind of enjoyable.

Old city directories are just a treat to browse. They have some advertisements from local companies, they go back in time to an era when telephone numbers started with letters, and you can see who used to live in your house! Hours of entertainment!

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Peak Experiences

Tomorrow night (Wednesday, March 12) come hear mountain climber Ed Viesturs speak about his experiences. He will be appearing at the Central Library Meeting Room, 6:30 PM. Mr. Viesturs' book is entitled : No Shortcuts to the Top: Climbing the World's 14 Highest Peaks. Apparently, he couldn't stop with one peak. He couldn't stop with a dozen! And not only did he make it up 14 peaks, he made it down safely - no wonder he looks so heroic on the cover. This is a man to listen to carefully. Take notes.

Sunday, March 9, 2008

You Like Us, you really like us!

The Institute of Museum and Library Studies announced Feb 28th the results of a study that, among other things, compared library use by internet users and non-users. According to the report internet use has not had an adverse effect on the use of public libraries. Au contraire! In fact, 96% of the public who use the Internet also visit the library in person. Plus libraries and museums are the most trusted sources of information. Take any other information source! Yeah!

Click here for more information.

Saturday, March 8, 2008

Sleep Deprivation

Nooooo! It's the least wonderful time of the year when we lose an hour of sleep. Sure,we all like the extra hour of light in the evening, but at what cost? And it's so early now! From 1987-2006 Daylight Savings Time began on the first Sunday in April. That was somewhat more civilized. Now it starts the second Sunday in March and ends on the first Sunday in November. Sigh. The official time to set your clock forward an hour is 2AM Sunday, but if you're like me it's gonna happen closer to 10 PM. Maybe 7.

Source:World Almanac and Book of Facts 2008 p. 340

Friday, March 7, 2008

Really Strange Movies Part I

Strange, but curiously good. In the City of Lost Children Krank is a scientist who cannot dream and suffers terribly as a consequence. So naturally he kidnaps children to steal their dreams. A little girl thief and a strongman (Ron Pearlman!) work together to stop Krank. Of course, it's not nearly that simple or direct. But the design work is amazing and the visuals are stunning, in the dark fashion of Brazil. As a bonus, it's in French! Take it home and don't worry too much about the plot, just enjoy this as a sort of moving painting.

Thursday, March 6, 2008

Arnold, Neither Pig nor Governor

Today is the birthday of Iowa's own Tom Arnold. Born in Ottumwa in 1959, he nevertheless eventually became an actor. No disrespect to Ottumwa, but it's just like the rest of Iowa - not exactly the Hollywood of the Midwest. Among his better work are the films True Lies and Happy Endings. If you're interested in his point of view vis-a-vis all the shenanigans that put him in the spotlight, especially during his Roseanne years, you might try his autobiography, How I lost 5 pounds in 6 years. Ha! He's still got it. Of course, maybe "it" is the truth about dieting.

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Spring will come eventually. I'm pretty sure anyway. So here are some premature tips for you gardeners. According to the The Old Farmer's Almanac 2008, page 272, traditional planting times go like this:
Corn "when elm leaves are the size of a squirrel's ear"
Perennials "when maple leaves begin to unfurl"
Pansies "after the aspen and chokecherry trees leaf out"

There it is, old-fashioned, vague folk knowledge to help you garden.
So good luck with that!

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

It's Raining Beatles

Whether or not you can get to tonight's RAIN show at the Civic Center, if you are a Beatles fan you may enjoy some CD's with a slightly differently take on their songs. "I am Sam" is all cover songs. Aimee Mann's and Michael Penn's take on Two of Us is especially engaging. Love by the Beatles is from the Cirque du Soleil's re-imagining of the Beatles' works, often mixing very different songs together. Lastly, Across the Universe presents the songs in the raw, simply sung with great emotion by actors from the movie of the same name.

Monday, March 3, 2008

Six Years after you swallowed the gum

We all know gum doesn't stay in your stomach 7 years. Nobody believes that anymore. But how long does it take for gum to digest? Turns out it doesn't digest at all. You might as well swallow a marble. In a manner of speaking. Plus, it's not true that humans only use 10 percent of their brains. It's just that so much of the gray matter is occupied with stuff like this.

Our online database the eLibrary (Electric Library) provided this information.