Friday, November 21, 2014

Thanksgiving Week

The library will be open from 8 a.m.-5 p.m. on Tues., Nov. 25. We will then be closed for the rest of the week. Happy Thanksgiving!

New Books on the Shelves

With Thanksgiving break just around the corner, and the bitter bite of winter settling in like a houseguest, now is a great time to drop by the library to browse our selection of new books. Whether you're looking for the latest in YA fiction or a hefty IT manual to curl up with over a cup of hot chocolate, we've got it. Looking for suggestions? We’ve got those too.

If the upcoming holiday has you dreaming of home-grown kale and locally-produced, pasture-raised turkey, explore the future of good food in The Third Plate by Dan Barber. Cindy Burke guides readers through the often confusing world of organic, conventional, local and sustainable foods in To Buy or Not to Buy Organic. History and food intersect in The Taste of War: World War II and the Battle for Food by Lizzie Collingham, and Karen Le Billon discusses the benefits of "eating French" (including a cure for picky eaters!) in French Kids Eat Everything.

If Le Billion’s book inspires you to delve further into French history and culture, check out Seven Ages of Paris by Alistair Horne, which covers everything from Caesar to de Gaulle, and Twilight of the Belle Epoque by Mary McAuliffe, which explores Paris and the artists, musicians, writers and scientists who lived there at the turn of the twentieth century.

Interested in delving into the lives and ideas of great philosophers? We’ve expanded our collection of the Very Short Introduction series so you can do just that. Read up on everything from Agnosticism and Humanism to Schopenhauer and Spinoza.
If you don’t have any particular subject in mind and are just interested in a riveting tale, check out The Lost Elements: the Periodic Table’s Shadow Side by Marco Fontani and learn about the elements that make it onto the table. In The Scarlet Sisters: Sex, Suffrage, and Scandal in the Gilded Age, Myra McPherson explores the fascinating lives of sisters Victoria Woodhull -- the first woman to run for president with Frederick Douglass as her running mate -- and Tennie Claflin, who ran for Congress. I Wasn't Strong Like This When I Started Out: True Stories of Becoming a Nurse, edited by Lee Gutkind, offers insight into the struggles and triumphs of a nursing career.

We’ve got fiction too, so take your pick: adventure -- The Glass Sentence by S. E. Grove -- thriller -- The Seville Communion by Arturo Perez-Reverte -- or love and crime -- Sarah Waters’s latest, long-awaited novel, The Paying Guests.

Find all these books and more on our new books list!

Monday, November 17, 2014

Mathville Puzzles: The final exam

Graphic courtesy of Alberto G.

Every year, Mrs. Blivet's 12th grade students at Bitwise Shift High School in Mathville take a final exam to see who the cleverest students are.  The exam consists of 8 questions, some requiring mathematical thinking, others requiring common sense or attention to detail (such as identifying irrelevant information). Can you find the correct answers to all 8 questions in this year's final exam?

Mrs. Blivet's 12th Grade Final Exam

1.    Which USA state is surrounded by the most water?
2.    You have only one match. You enter a dark room in which there are an oil lamp, a wood burning stove, and a candle.  Which would you light first?
3.    There are 100 houses on Protractor Road. House numbers are 1 to 100. How many houses have the number 9 in their address?
4.    The Sun is about 100 million miles from the Earth. The speed of light is 186,000 miles per second, and light takes 8 minutes to reach the Earth. The sun rose at 6:11 am this morning. A warp in the time-space continuum causes the speed of light to double. What time will the sun rise tomorrow?
5.    If five thousand, five hundred and three dollars is written as $5,503, how would fifteen thousand, fifteen hundred and fifteen dollars be written?
6.    Why are 2001 dollar coins worth more than 1999 dollar coins?
7.    A train leaves Octagon Station exactly on time. The train conductor leaves the driver's cab and walks the length of the train, taking half an hour to do so. He then returns to the cab at the same speed. When he arrives back at the cab, the train is pulling into Cartesian Station, which is 60 miles from Octagon. How fast was the train moving?
8.    If one half of 5 were 3, how much would one third of 10 be?

Contest Rules

  • You must send the solution via email to Laura Skinner at
    Solution due by Monday, November 24th at 11:59 p.m. Solutions sent after the deadline will not be considered.
  • You must email the solution from your PVCC email address.
  • All 8 questions must be answered correctly.
  • You must explain how you arrived at the solution -- that is, you must show your work, explain your reasoning.
  • Only correct solutions with explanations of the reasoning used to arrive at the solution will be considered.
  • Thirteen entries will be drawn from all the correct solutions, to determine three first places, six  second places, and four third places.
  • The first place winners will each be awarded a $30 gift certificate to the PVCC Bookstore.
  • The second place winners will each be awarded a $15 gift certificate to the Mermaid Express coffee cart.
  • The third prize winners will each be awarded a big Hershey’s milk chocolate bar.
  • Drawing will be conducted on Monday, December 1st, 2014. Winners will be notified by email, and their names will be published on a blog post. 
  • The solution to the puzzle will be published on the blog after winners have been announced.Winners must pick up their prizes by Friday, December 5th at 4 p.m., or they forfeit their prizes. Prizes must be picked up in person. Please present your student I.D.

Monday, November 10, 2014

Thank you to those who volunteered!

Thank you to everyone who showed interest in participating in the library’s usability tests. Within a matter of hours, all of our volunteer slots were filled. We definitely felt loved. Have a great week!

Friday, November 7, 2014

Seeking volunteers!

The library is seeking 5 volunteers to participate in a usability study. The participants will receive a $10 gift card to the Mermaid Express as a ‘thank you’ for their time, of which no more than 45 minutes is required.

What you will be doing: Completing simple tasks using the library's Web site and Research Guides. We will record your movements using Panopto (a screen capture program), and you will answer a simple questionnaire at the beginning and conclusion of the activity.

When you will be doing this: We are flexible and can work with your schedule; however, please plan to complete the task before December 12, 2014.

Where you will be doing this: We will use the computers in the CT3 located within the library.

What will we do with this information? We will use this data to improve the usability and navigation of our Web site and Research Guides.

Your opinions matter, so please consider volunteering. If you are interested,
contact Crystal Newell at by November 20, 2014. We look forward to hearing from you soon!

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Library showcase: Thanksgiving!

Thanksgiving is a truly American holiday. It’s a time when we celebrate family, friends, and, naturally, food! What could be more American than that? 

At the first Thanksgiving in 1621, the settlers of Plymouth Colony celebrated their first successful harvest in the New World with a feast that lasted for three days. Alongside their Native American neighbors, the Pilgrims ate roast goose, duck, venison, and crops from their recent harvest, including beans, squash, and corn.

Annual Thanksgiving celebrations became popular in the United States during the early nineteenth century, and over the years we have added many of the Thanksgiving traditions that we know today, like eating turkey, football games, and the Macy’s Day Parade. In 1863 Thanksgiving gained an official date (the last Thursday in November) and was proclaimed a day of giving thanks by Abraham Lincoln. Almost eighty years later in 1941, Congress formally established Thanksgiving as a national holiday.

You can find much more information on the early history of this American tradition in books such as A Great and Godly Adventure: The Pilgrims & the Myth of the First Thanksgiving by Godfrey Hodgson and The Times of Their Lives: Life, Love, and Death in Plymouth Colony by James Deetz and Patricia Scott Deetz.

Curious about what it was like to be a Pilgrim in 1621? Check out Mayflower: A Story of Courage, Community, and War by Nathaniel Philbrick, Making Haste From Babylon: The Mayflower Pilgrims and Their World by Nick Bunker, or William Bradford: Plymouth’s Faithful Pilgrim by Gary D. Schmidt.

The Pilgrims weren’t alone at the 1621 Thanksgiving celebration, and today November is recognized as Native American Heritage Month. Learn more about the very first Americans in Our Stories Remember: American Indian History, Culture, and Values through Storytelling by Joseph Burchac, In the Hands of the Great Spirit by Jake Page, and American Indian Stories, Legends, and Other Writings by famous Native American author and activist, Zitkala-Ša.

Every year millions of Americans look forward to Thanksgiving dinner, and each of us has memories of our favorite part of the meal, whether it’s turkey and gravy, sweet potato casserole, pumpkin pie, or a dish unique to your own family. If you’re looking for a new recipe to try this Thanksgiving (or you just enjoy drooling over gorgeous pictures of food), you’ll definitely want to check out some of the cookbooks at the library. You'll find tons of delicious ideas in Return to Sunday Dinner by Russell Cronkhite, The Glory of Southern Cooking by James Villas, Preserving: The Canning and Freezing Guide for All Seasons by Pat Crocker, and many more!