How Did that Start: Halloween

Sign2015October is upon us and that means it’s that time when the leaves start turning red and gold, days get shorter, and nights get colder. It’s a time where brisk winds bring upon noises you’re not sure you’re really hearing, and where shadows dance around with your fears. With October comes one of the very best holidays, in my opinion, Halloween. Halloween is the one day of the year where everybody confronts their fears and fantasies by dressing up in costumes, sneaking off into the night, and performing mischief. It is also a time where mother nature sets the perfect mood for you to sit down with a scary book or horror film. Likewise, kids get to experience the ultimate of sugar rushes as they go door-to-door collecting gumballs, candies, and gelled popcorn creations. Like most holidays, Halloween did not just spring to life in America; it came to us through thousands of years of growth and change, passing from culture to culture, from the Ancient Irish to the Roman Empire and several others all putting their stamp on it.

For the most part, Halloween was believed to start as part of the Celtic religion’s New Year celebration, Samhain, which occurred on November 1st. It was on the day before Samhain, that the Celtic people believed the boundary between the worlds of the living and the dead became paper thin and blurred. During this time the ghosts of the dead could return and once again walk the face of the earth. To ward off the spirits, Druids would build huge sacred bonfires and offer sacrifices of corn and animals to the deities. Citizens, likewise, would dress in costumes of animal heads and skins to hide themselves from the spirits. People would also burn effigies depicting their fears, and since the reality boundary was so thin, they felt that it was a prime time for fortune-telling.

In 43 AD, the Roman Empire finished conquering the lands of the Celtic people. Always good for taking someone else’s traditions and combining them with their own, Rome, decided to merge Samhain with two of their own festivals. The first was called Feralia, which usually occurred mid-October. Romans usually took this day to formally commemorate the passing of the dead. The other festival they merged Samhain with was Pomona, a day dedicated to the honor of the goddess of fruits and trees (it is widely believed that the tradition of bobbing for apples on Halloween came from Roman tradition).

When the Roman Empire fell, the holiday that would eventually come to be known as Halloween, once again evolved, this time thanks to the Roman Catholic Church. Early on in the Church’s history they started a day in mid-October to celebrate the saints and martyr’s. Eventually that celebration would move to November 1st and become known as All Saints’ Day; a day to honor the dead. The day before (October 31st) would come to be known as All Hallows’ Eve, and similar to Samhain, people would celebrate with bonfires and costumes. In fact, in France during the 14th and 15th centuries, the tradition of dressing up, evolved into a reenactment of a custom called the Danse Macabre (The Dance of Death) which started during the plague known as Black Death, wherein party-goers would dress up so that demons could not tell who they were.

In the mid-19th century, Halloween, came to America with British and Irish immigrants. One tradition had the adults of families go door to door asking for food or money and people gave gifts because it was thought to be good luck and kept spirits from performing mischief. Later in the early to middle part of the 20th century, Halloween became the secular community-based holiday that we know today, where kids go door-to-door asking for treats and threatening tricks, families display Jack ‘O Lanterns, and both grownups and children dress up in costume and attend parties and dances.

In celebration of the spirit of Halloween, you can find frightful, horrifying, and haunting tales both true and fictitious on the Monthly Book Display.

Banned Books Week: Celebrate the Freedom to Read


During the week of September 27 to October 3, we’re celebrating Banned Books Week and the freedom to read along with schools, bookstores and libraries across the nation.  You might not believe it but books still get challenged and banned today.  There were 311 challenges reported to the Office of Intellectual Freedom in 2014, here’s a list of the 10 most challenged titles of last year.  Check out which books you’ve read from this list of the most frequently challenged books of the past two decades.  You might even be surprised which books have been challenged and why.

Here are a few titles you can check out that have been challenged:


Back to School: Fall 2015 Edition

Back to School Blog

The Prairie State College Library welcomes back students and faculty to another exciting school year! With classes starting up, it is important to know about the new as well as continuing services that the library offers to help them succeed and enjoy their experience at PSC.

Don’t forget to check out the books at the bottom of this page and those on display near our Library Classroom, as they can help you succeed in the new school year and in your academic career.

What is New?

The new One Book is “The Signal and the Noise by Nate Silver” — You can check out both the book and the ebook for the “One Book/One Community” reading program.  Read more about the program here.

The Library Chalkboard — Come check out the Library’s Blackboard discussion board located near the entrance of the library. Each week, the library posts one thought provoking question that you can respond to.

Check out the New Books Section — The library now has a New Books Section that is located in front of the “Quiet Reading Room.” This section includes the latest books that the library has received.

The Library has a New Catalog: The Prairie State College Library, along with over 70 local libraries, use what is called the SWAN Catalog, which has recently gotten a new look and interface. Continue reading to find out more on using this new catalog to see what we have or to order books and movies from our partner libraries.

Things to Remember…

Scanning, Faxing, and Printing is Available — Scanning documents is 5 cents per page. Faxing is $1 per page. Printing is 10 cents. In addition, printing in Color is available with the new Color Printer at the cost of 50 cents per page.

Study Rooms are Available — The library offers three study rooms that can be used for studying and preparing presentations.

Services for Faculty Members are Available — Be sure to visit our Instruction Services webpage to learn how to schedule a library instruction session for your classes, learn tips about how you can help us help your students, as well as other services you can take advantage of.

We Are Always Here to Help — Check out our Ask A Librarian Page for more information on how the library can help you out!

Books that can help you succeed this school year and in your academic career…


The Prairie State College Library has numerous books designed to help you with your career choice.  Some of them concentrate on detailing the different careers in a specific field.  Some books try to help you discover the career that would best suit you.  The books below and many more are available for checkout.

Staff Favorite: Scott Pilgrim

spcoverThe Library now has the complete collection of the Scott Pilgrim series by Brian Lee O’Malley. If you are unfamiliar with the comic or the 2010 Edgar Wright movie, Scott Pilgrim features Scott, a 22 year old, unemployed slacker, who falls in love with Ramona Flowers, a rollerblading message delivery girl. Unfortunately for Scott, to date Ramona means that he has to defeat her 7 Evil Exes.

Great for anyone who loves video games, anime/manga, or just pop culture in general. Stop by the Library and check them out.  You can also find articles and more information on Scott Pilgrim by using OneSearch.

Check this book out! Four: A Divergent Collection

The latest novel in the Divergent series from bestselling author Veronica Roth will be sure to satisfy Divergent fans.  Four is a companion novel that includes four pre-Divergent stories plus three additional scenes all as told from Tobias’s point of view.   If you’re a fan of the series or a have just discovered the novels, you’ll be sure to enjoy this companion novel that takes you further into the character’s experience.

Check out this novel and other books new to our collection:

The Ultimate Chicago Reading List

If you’re looking for an engaging summer read, why not pick up a novel set here in Chicago?

Whether you grew up in the city or love to visit, you’ll enjoy recognizing the streets, neighborhoods, and landmarks that make up this beautiful city while turning each page.

Here are 12 must-reads that everyone who lives here needs to read!

Check Out These New Books!

Looking for a new book to check out? The Prairie State College Library has several new options for you to check out each week. New books range from studies about drones and food flavors to new fiction and graphic novels. Whatever you prefer to read about, we can find options for you, just ask a Librarian.

The new books are on display and ready for you to pick up on the shelves outside the Quiet Reading Room in the Prairie State College library.


Shark Week is here!

Since 1988 summertime has been synonymous with Shark Week, a week long celebration of all things shark related invading your television and social media feeds. Here a few resources to delve deeper into the often feared fish and separate fact from the many popularly misconstrued fictions.

If you’ve ever wondered what it looks like to cruise on a hammerhead (from the safety of your own computer), check out this GoPro footage provided by The Discovery Channel. You may also use surf the resources below in OneSearch, which connect you to books, videos, and news stories on sharks or whatever subject you’re interested in. Try our Research Starter on Sharks to, aptly titled, get you started on all your shark basics. Though if you’d rather see sharks a bit closer than your screen, check out these free days at the Shedd Aquarium for Illinois residents.

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The New SWAN Catalog

The New SWAN Catalog

slide-3-readyA library catalog is the place you go to see what books and movies a particular library has that you can check out or place a hold on. The Prairie State College Library, along with over 70 local libraries, use what is called the SWAN Catalog, which has recently gotten a new look and interface. Continue reading to find out more on using this new catalog to see what we have or to order books and movies from our partner libraries.


Your Account

Before you can sign up for a SWAN account you must make sure that you already have a library account with the Prairie State College Library. To set up your account, you will just need to bring your Student ID to the Circulation Desk.

After you set up your Library Account you can log in to SWAN by going to the Catalog ( and clicking on Log In in the top right hand corner.

log inTo log in just type in your PSC Student ID number (located at the bottom of the card) into the Library Card Number box. You PIN number will be the last 4 digits of the phone number that you signed up for your Library Account with.

After you are logged in you can check the status of your account by clicking on My Account in the top right hand corner. This area will tell you what items you have checked out, on hold (ordered from another library) and if you have any fines.

checked outSearching SWAN

To search SWAN, just begin by typing the name of the item you are looking for in the search box. The default search is ALL FIELDS. If you want a narrower search, click on the ALL FIELDS drop down menu. From there you can limit your search to author, title, subject, etc … .

searchWhen you have found the item you are looking for on the Results page, just click on the Title to see its status. If the item is not checked out, write down the Call Number and bring it to a Librarian at the Reference Desk who will be happy to show you where the item is located.

On this screen you can also place a hold on checked out items, add the item to a wish list, and check out summaries, reviews and excerpts of the item. In addition, the SWAN Catalog will produce further Suggestions that are similar to the book.

item recordPlacing a Hold

In addition to the books we have at Prairie State College, you can also search what items our partner libraries have and, if you want, have them sent to Prairie State College, by placing a hold. You can find the Search Box for all of the libraries by going here or by clicking on the Prairie State College drop down menu and selecting Everything.

everythingThen you just search the catalog for your item and when you find it, click on the Place Hold button. A librarian will then call or email you when the item is in. It will usually take 2-4 business days to arrive.


If you have any more questions about using the SWAN Catalog, stop by the Reference Desk and a Librarian will be happy to help out.

Library Resources to Expand Your Digital Skill Set

Sometimes it’s easy to forget that YouTube and all its video glory has only existed for the past ten years. Though YouTube first appeared on February 14th, 2005, the first video was posted ten years ago today on April 23rd, 2005.Untitled

While YouTube is full of videos on seemingly every subject, no matter how random, there are also a ton of education friendly channels that can help you with your assignments or just to learn something new. Check out CrashCourse for lessons about history, disease, and psychology to name a few. SciShow and MinuteEarth are more science and space focused, but are full of interesting facts and ideas to explore.

If you would rather produce your own content online, the Library has resources to help you expand your digital skill set, with titles on editing and production, as well as careers in multimedia, it’s all there for you to check out!

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Resume and Job Hunting Help @ PSC

Prairie State College’s Student Career Development Center provides current students and PSC graduates with a wide-range of services to help make successful career choices. You can visit Office 152 in the Adult Training and Outreach Center to get started.

There is also the Chicago Heights Workforce Center at PSC, who’s mission is to “assist Cook County residents with grant-funded training and career opportunities that result in career paths and self-sufficiency”.  They can help with career counselling, training and education, job development/placement and workshops.

You can also search for current job listings on the College Central Network (CCN), a free online job listing source for employment opportunities in northern Illinois.  Job hunting while on campus?  Check out the upcoming Job Fairs and Employer Recruitment Visits happening at PSC.

Spring Job Fair 2015

Tuesday, April 14
10 a.m. – 1 p.m.
Conference Center

There are also one-on-one consultations and Day and Evening Workshops happening several times a year at the Student Career Development Center.  These free professional development workshops are offered on a variety of topics like:

  • Career Changers
  • Résumé Basics
  • Interviewing Skills
  • Job Search and Techniques
  • How to Attend a Job Fair

Need help getting started on your resume or cover letter? Come into the library to find some of these books that will help you land that job:


Using Research Starters

If you want to find out an overview of a topic, where do you go? Many people try Wikipedia first. It has a lot of information. Now what if you need an overview of a topic but would like one you could cite for a paper? That’s where our research starters come in. They are shorter than Wikipedia entries but can still get you started. The sources are usually from encyclopedias, as well.

For example, let’s say I go to and type adhd in the search box. I get 205,000+ results, but the top one before the numbered ones says Research Starter.

adhd reserach starter

Now I can click where it says “Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD)” and read approximately five pages about ADHD. It comes from Magill’s Medical Guide, a quality source. At the bottom of the research starter it lists a bibliography that you can also use including sources from the DSM-5 and the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH).

There are more than 62,000 research starters (1), so your topic has a great chance of having its own research starter. I’ve found them for microeconomics, wicca, the sinking of the Lusitania, zebras, the solar system, cloning, and more.

(1) Enis, Matt. “Industry: EDS Research Starters Debuts.” Library Journal 139.5 (2014): 22. Professional Development Collection. Web. 27 Feb. 2015.

The Most Popular Ebooks at PSC

Many of you know that we have a very large eBook collection here at PSC (we have over 4 times as many ebooks as print books), and by the looks of it, you’ve been busy reading them! Here are 12 of the most accessed ebook titles in our collection for 2014. Feel free to take a look at them by click on the cover images, or explore the ebook collection on our own either in OneSearch or directly in the ebook collection.

Dinner Roles: American Women and Culinary Culture
Dinner Roles: American Women and Culinary Culture

Cambodian Buddhism: History and Practice
Cambodian Buddhism: History and Practice

The Poorhouse: Subsidized Housing in Chicago
The Poorhouse: Subsidized Housing in Chicago

Pro Tools 101: An introduction to Pro Tools 10
Pro Tools 101: An Introduction to Pro Tools 10

Muse in Bronzeville: African American Creative Expression in Chicago, 1932-1950
Muse in Bronzeville: African American Creative Expression in Chicago, 1932-1950

Against All Hope: A Memoir of Life in Castro's Gulag
Against All Hope: A Memoir of Life in Castro’s Gulag

Nurse's Grant Writing Advantage : How Grantwriting Can Advance Your Nursing Career
Nurse’s Grant Writing Advantage: How Grantwriting Can Advance Your Nursing Career

Arguing with Tradition: The Language of Law in Hopi Tribal Court
Arguing with Tradition: The Language of Law in Hopi Tribal Court

Why Did They Kill?: Cambodia in the Shadow of Genocide
Why Did They Kill?: Cambodia in the Shadow of Genocide

Scientific Research as a Career
Scientific Research as a Career

Bacteria: The Benign, the Bad, and the Beautiful
Bacteria: The Benign, the Bad, and the Beautiful
Obesity: Cultural and Biocultural Perspectives
Obesity: Cultural and Biocultural Perspectives

Check Out Test Prep Guides

Have you ever wanted to check out a study guide for the GRE, ASVAB, or NCLEX? Prairie State Library has many test prep guides. Let me show you a step-by-step way to search for the guides through our OneSearch. Click on any of the screenshots (pictures) to see them more clearly.

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First, type the name of the test into the search box on our homepage, I used GRE as an example. Then hit enter or click on Find It.

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Next, you will come to our results page. To find books on campus, use the limiters on the left-hand side and click the box next to “In the Library.”

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Finally, check the status of the book you want to see if it says “ON SHELF.” If it does, then you can find the book with the Call Number (Call No.) or write down the Call Number and bring it to a librarian to help you locate it. If the one you want is checked out, you can put it on hold or find a different book that is available.

We have guides for the ACT, ASVAB, CDL, CLEP, GED, GMAT, GRE, GRE psychology, LSAT, NCLEX, SAT, TOEFL, and more!

That’s it! Three simple steps to finding a test prep guide! As always, come to the Reference Desk in the library if you have any questions, or call us at 708-709-7948!

Where Can I Find…in the Library?

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Welcome or welcome back to the library. A new school year is underway, and the library is here to support you. We have many different resources that we want students, faculty, and staff to be aware of so you can take advantage of them! (Click on the pictures to enlarge them).

DVDsA new and exciting addition to everyone is our DVD display rack. Now you can browse our DVD selection right in the library. Look through the covers, bring the one you want up to the circulation desk with your ID, and borrow DVDs for 7 days! New covers and titles are being added often.

Location: Near the front door of the library, opposite the circulation desk.

ereaderAnother new addition as of this semester is our e-readers. Now you can check out a book from our 3M collection and then check out an e-reader to take home with you for 3 weeks. This way you don’t have to have a phone or other device that you can read it on, and you can take it with you anywhere!

Location: Check books out in catalog, check out e-reader at circulation desk.

reference booksWhat staples do we have to offer you in the library? Besides the usual fiction and nonfiction, we have reference books, graphic novels, books on display, a quiet reading room, study rooms, and more!

Among our reference books are dictionaries, encyclopedias, subject-specific overviews, almanacs. These books cannot be checked out, but you can make limited copies for yourself or use them in the library.

Location: The middle of the library on shorter shelves.

graphic novelsOur graphic novels are very popular in the library, and rightly so I think! I’m a big fan of graphic novels because you can see the characters as the author or illustrator imagined them, and you have to read the pictures just as much as you read the text. They recently moved to being shelved by the fiction but are still pulled out separately.

Location: Back left of the library under the sign that says “Fiction.”

book displayEvery month the librarians put together displays on relevant and/or interesting topics. Our current displays are books on video games and books on back to school. Other displays we have put together include themes like Halloween, Christmas, Going Green, Gardening, the World Cup, Summer Reading, and Poetry Month.

Location: Past the computers, in front of the library classroom.

study room meets quiet roomWe also have a quiet reading room past the circulation desk where there is no talking and you can read or work without distractions. If you have two or more people that want to discuss something or study or work together, there are three study rooms available to reserve for up to 2 hours at a time. This can be done with a student ID up at the circulation desk.

As always, the reference librarians are at the reference desk by the computers ready to help you with your academic needs whenever the library is open. Stop by, interrupt us, and ask away! We’re here for you!