A Giant Spot and Open Data

A Giant Spot

On July 10, 2017, Juno completed its 7th and final close flyby of the gas giant, Jupiter. (In cosmic terms, “close flyby” meant 6,130 miles.) In this final flyby, the Juno spacecraft snapped a close-up shot of the Giant Red Spot, a hurricane-like storm that is as big as Earth and that has been raging for at least 160 years.

juno1NASA/JPL-Caltech/SwRI/MSSS/Gerald Eichstädt

Launched in August 2011, Juno’s job is to closely collect and gather data on Jupiter. NASA states Juno’s explicit goals are to:

  • Determine how much water is in Jupiter’s atmosphere, which helps determine which planet formation theory is correct (or if new theories are needed)
  • Look deep into Jupiter’s atmosphere to measure composition, temperature, cloud motions and other properties
  • Map Jupiter’s magnetic and gravity fields, revealing the planet’s deep structure
  • Explore and study Jupiter’s magnetosphere near the planet’s poles, especially the auroras – Jupiter’s northern and southern lights – providing new insights about how the planet’s enormous magnetic force field affects its atmosphere.

Overall, this mission will give us a better understanding of how Jupiter begin and how it evolved into the planet it is today.

Open Data

US Copyright law states a work “prepared by an officer or employee of the United States Government as part of that person’s official duties” is not subject to domestic copyright law. Meaning, most of the work created and published by the US government are no copyrighted, and therefore, can be used for any educational and informational purposes.

Take, for example, the picture of Jupiter’s Giant Red Spot seen above. This image was manipulated and composed by a citizen scientist using raw data gathered by NASA, a government agency. It was the right of this citizen scientist to us this information for their own and the community’s informational needs. We, as citizens, have as equal of ownership of the data as the government because we paid for the acquisition and distribution through our tax dollars.

This extends beyond just the data and information collected by NASA. All government departments and agencies are fantastic resources for gathering research sources. These agencies provide raw and analyzed data that can be used for research and educational purposes.

Here are some excellent government resources for your college projects:

The open  access to United States Government data is a right not shared by many other countries. It allows for open discussion and analysis of publicly funded practices and scientific inquiries. Unfortunately, I could not include access to the EPA’s data on climate change as the current administration has removed that information.

 

National Library Legislative Day

Library of Congress; photo credit: USCapitol

The proposed federal budget for fiscal year 2018 includes massive cuts to library program budgets. But Congress must approve the budget, so there is still time to save funding. Today is National Library Legislative Day, so this week is the perfect time to take action! Here’s what you can do:

  • Tell us why you care about libraries by writing on the library’s chalkboard (located near the computer lab).
  • Sign up to be a library advocate to stay informed about library legislative issues.
  • Contact the Illinois Senators (Dick Durbin and Tammy Duckworth) by email, phone, and/or Twitter to ask them to support library funding.

If you’ve ever used the PSC Library (or any library for that matter!), visited a museum,  or simply believe that credible information should be available to all, then this issue directly affects you. Show that you care by taking action! (And if you’d like to learn more about the civic process, check out the library’s Political Science guide.)

8 Books to Read for New and Upcoming TV Shows

Want to be ahead of the curve? Check out these books from the Library before they become TV shows!

The Handmaid’s Tale

The Show

Hulu | April 26, 2017 | Read up on it

The Book

The Handmaid’s Tale

by Margaret Atwood

FIC ATW

Offred is a Handmaid in the Republic of Gilead. She may leave the home of the Commander and his wife once a day to walk to food markets whose signs are now pictures instead of words because women are no longer allowed to read. She must lie on her back once a month and pray that the Commander makes her pregnant, because in an age of declining births, Offred and the other Handmaids are valued only if their ovaries are viable.

Offred can remember the days before, when she lived and made love with her husband Luke; when she played with and protected her daughter; when she had a job, money of her own, and access to knowledge. But all of that is gone now….


American Gods

The Show

Starz | April 2017 | Read up on it

The Book

American Gods

by Neil Gaiman

FIC GAI

Released from prison, Shadow finds his world turned upside down. His wife has been killed; a mysterious stranger offers him a job. But Mr. Wednesday, who knows more about Shadow than is possible, warns that a storm is coming — a battle for the very soul of America . . . and they are in its direct path. Continue reading “8 Books to Read for New and Upcoming TV Shows”

Civic engagement

dc

Photo credit: BKL, c/o www.travelmag.com, shared under the Creative Commons license

A new presidential administration is underway. Regardless of your political beliefs, it’s a good time to remember that as U.S. citizens, we have the duty and the right to speak up about issues we care about.

If you’re new to the civic process in general, our Political Science Guide includes some great resources to familiarize yourself with government processes, including books and websites.

Here are some ways to stay connected and to help you voice concerns:

  • Join the email list for a nonprofit organization that represents a cause you care about.
  • National Public Radio (NPR) has a new show, titled Indivisible, in which listeners with differing political views are encouraged to call in and discuss concerns. In the Chicago area, the NPR station is 91.5 FM.
  • White House Petitions are online petitions that you can start or sign. The White House is required to address petitions that reach at least 100,000 signatures.
  • Regulations.gov is an online database of proposed changes or additions to regulations. The government is required to review and consider submissions on this site, so speak up!
  • Contact your Senator or Representative. This site has some tips on the different methods of contact, and allows you to find your elected officials by entering your zip code.

Like any organization, the government needs to know what’s working (or not) for its people. By staying informed and providing feedback, YOU can help shape the direction of our nation!

 

 

 

Monthly Display: Elections

In two short weeks, we, citizens of the United States of America, will be able to exercise one of our most important rights as citizens: voting.Women's suffrage

The history of voting rights in the United States reveals the best and worst things about our nation. In the beginning of our nation, the right to vote was exclusive to white, property owning men aged 21 and over. This right slowly opened up to all citizens, regardless of race, gender, or ethnicity. A short paragraph does little justice to history of voting rights in this country. The fight for voting equality shows the great bravery of many of our citizens. All people, especially people of color and women, put their lives at risk. Many died or were gravely injured for the vote. Moreover, it also shows the great shames our nation must face. Our long and continuing history of denying people their full and equal rights as citizens.

On November 7th, please exercise your right. Do it for those who came before you and those who will come after you. For information about your local ballot, visit Ballot Ready.

 

Dr. Carla Hayden, Librarian of Congress

On September 14, Dr. Carla Hayden was sworn in as the 14th librarian of Congress. aptopixlibrarianofcongress-7b2acThe selection of Dr. Hayden is a landmark appointment; she is the first woman and the first African-American to head the Library of Congress. In addition, Hayden is also only the third career librarian to serve as Librarian of Congress, which has previously been held by historians or other scholars. The Library of Congress is the world’s largest library with over 160,000,000 items.

Dr. Hayden grew up in Chicago, attending Roosevelt University and then the University of Chicago Graduate School Library. Her first position out of library school was with the Museum of Science and Industry, where she meet Michelle and Barack Obama. In 1991, Dr. Hayden became second-in-command at the Chicago Public Library. Then in 1993, she was selected as director of the Enoch Pratt Free Library in Baltimore, Maryland. As director, Hayden was selected as Librarian of the Year by the Library Journal, she served as president of the American Librarian Association, and received national praise for keeping the library open during  riots in Baltimore after Freddie Gray’s arrest.

Dr. Hayden has been a champion of “Equity of Access” through her entire career. She fought against the Bush Administration and the PATRIOT Act, earning significant praise. As Librarian of Congress, Dr. Hayden has vowed to digitize the Library of Congress’s collection, providing equal access to our nation’s literary and information resources.

In her nomination address, Dr. Hayden said, “I’ve talked for years and cited how slaves were forbidden to read, you could get your hand chopped off, or people who taught slaves to read were punished, that’s Fredrick Douglass’s thing. So to have an African American heading up the world’s largest library is not quite an oxymoron, but it speaks to the history.”

Follow Dr. Carla Hayden on Twitter.

 

 

References

Gross, Daniel. “Carla Hayden Takes Charge of World’s Largest Library.” September 20, 2016. Accessed September 30, 2016. http://www.newyorker.com/books/page-turner/carla-hayden-takes-charge-of-the-worlds-largest-library.

St. Lifer, Evan, and Michael Rogers. “Hayden leaves Chicago PL to head Enoch Pratt Free Lib.” Library Journal 118, no. 10 (June 1993): 19.Academic Search Complete, EBSCOhost (accessed September 30, 2016).

Woods, Baynard. “Carla Hayden: New Librarian of Congress Makes History, with an Eye on the Future.” The Guardian. September 15, 2016. Accessed September 30, 2016. https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2016/sep/15/carla-hayden-librarian-congress-first-woman-african-american-post-interview.

President Obama’s Reading Lists

Getty Images

As we come closer to the end of President Obama’s term, I thought it would interesting to take a look through his reading lists  over the years. So if you want to read the books that the President did check out one or more of them from the Prairie State College Library.

Between the World and Me
Ta-Nehisi Coates
E185.615 .C6335 2015
Link to Ebook

In a profound work that pivots from the biggest questions about American history and ideals to the most intimate concerns of a father for his son, Ta-Nehisi Coates offers a powerful new framework for understanding our nation’s history and current crisis. Americans have built an empire on the idea of “race,” a falsehood that damages us all but falls most heavily on the bodies of black women and men—bodies exploited through slavery and segregation, and, today, threatened, locked up, and murdered out of all proportion. What is it like to inhabit a black body and find a way to live within it? And how can we all honestly reckon with this fraught history and free ourselves from its burden?


The Sixth Extinction
Elizabeth Kolbert
QE721.2.E97 K65 2014

Provides a moving account of the disappearances occurring all around us and traces the evolution of extinction as concept, from its first articulation by Georges Cuvier in revolutionary Paris up through the present day. The sixth extinction is likely to be mankind’s most lasting legacy, compelling us to rethink the fundamental question of what it means to be human.

All the Light We Cannot See
Anthony Doerr
Fic DOE

Marie-Laure lives with her father in Paris near the Museum of Natural History, where he works as the master of its thousands of locks. When she is six, Marie-Laure goes blind and her father builds a perfect miniature of their neighborhood so she can memorize it by touch and navigate her way home. When she is twelve, the Nazis occupy Paris and father and daughter flee to the walled citadel of Saint-Malo, where Marie-Laure’s reclusive great-uncle lives in a tall house by the sea. With them they carry what might be the museum’s most valuable and dangerous jewel.
In a mining town in Germany, the orphan Werner grows up with his younger sister, enchanted by a crude radio they find. Werner becomes an expert at building and fixing these crucial new instruments, a talent that wins him a place at a brutal academy for Hitler Youth, then a special assignment to track the resistance. More and more aware of the human cost of his intelligence, Werner travels through the heart of the war and, finally, into Saint-Malo, where his story and Marie-Laure’s converge.


Washington: A Life
Ron Chernow
E312 .C495 2011

Celebrated biographer Ron Chernow provides a richly nuanced portrait of the father of our nation and the first president of the United States. With a breadth and depth matched by no other one volume biography of George Washington, this crisply paced narrative carries the reader through his adventurous early years, his heroic exploits with the Continental Army during the Revolutionary War, his presiding over the Constitutional Convention, and his magnificent performance as America’s first president. In this groundbreaking work, based on massive research, Chernow shatters forever the stereotype of George Washington as a stolid, unemotional figure and brings to vivid life a dashing, passionate man of fiery opinions and many moods.


Continue reading “President Obama’s Reading Lists”

Constitution & Citizenship Day

Constitution & Citizenship Day is a federal observance of the adoption of the United States Constitution. Introduced in 2004 by West Virginia Senator Robert Byrd, the day is set aside for the promotion of civic education on the principal document of our nation. Senator Byrd believed it was imperative that all people in the United States have a fundamental understanding of the document that guarantees our freedoms. Moreover, it is also an opportunity to reflect how our nation has struggled with expanding full and equal rights to all people. On the anniversary of the signing the Constitution, September 17, 1787, all publicly funded schools are mandated to teach about the Constitution.

The Prairie State Library is excited to host a Constitution & Citizenship Day event on Thursday, September 15th from 12:30 to 1:45. The activities will include a lecture by Professor Andrew Schott titled “‘This Process Affords a Moral Certainty’ The Election of the U.S. President” and a “Citizenship Game Show” hosted by Professor Jennifer Eick-Magan.

Need more information? Want to impress your friends or enemies during the Game Show? Bone up on your knowledge of the U.S. Constitution by using PSC Library’s Guide to Constitution & Citizenship Day.

 

References:

Krache, Donna. “Constitution Day Ushers in Mandate to Teach the Constitution.” CNN. September 16, 2005. Accessed September 02, 2016. http://www.cnn.com/2005/EDUCATION/09/16/constitution.day/.

OBAMA, BARACK. “Proclamation 9323–Constitution Day and Citizenship Day, Constitution Week, 2015.” Daily Compilation Of Presidential Documents (September 16, 2015): 1. Points of View Reference Center, EBSCOhost (accessed September 2, 2016).

What you should know about the Illinois Primary

While it may be difficult to believe, we have just started the5140570614_227de6dc42_m 2016 primary process;  the Republican Party has held an election or caucus in 4 states and the Democrats in 3. On March 1st, the nomination process will kick into a higher gear with  “Super Tuesday” when 11 states will host a primary election event. “Super Tuesday” is a Tuesday in February or March when the highest number of states host their primary events. Primaries continue until June 7th, when California and New Jersey elections round off the cycle. Click here for a complete calendar of election events.

Primary season can be a very confusing time. The United States Constitution only sets standards for general elections, therefore, the standards for primary elections are left to the states, the political party in each state, as well as local jurisdictions. This can leave a rather mixed bag of events. For example, the Republican Party in South Carolina held their primary election on February 20th, whereas the Democrats held it on February 27th. In
North Dakota, the Republicans will have a closed caucus but the Democrats will select their nominee through an open primary. Check out The Imperfect Primary by Barbara Norrander from the Prairie State College Library for a more thorough discussion on the U.S. political, nomination system.

Some important things to know about the Illinois primary:

  1. March 15th, the date of the state-wide primary elections.
  2. It as a “hybrid primary.” This means that when you go to your polling place you may select the primary ballot for any party. In a “closed primary,” you may only vote in a party’s primary if you are a registered member of that party.
  3. Illinois has an easy-to-use portal to help you determine your polling place.
  4. Voting is open 6am-7pm.
  5. Voter registration ended on February 16th; however, you can still register to vote! Called “Grace Period Registration,” any Illinois resident may register in-person at an election authority in their jurisdiction. This also includes updating your address or legal name. Make sure you have the right forms of identification when you register.
  6. You can vote now! Tuesday the 15th could be a very busy day for you, as well as other voters. You also may be too excited to wait and want to vote as soon as possible. Illinois allows for early voting for any qualified voter. If this is something that interest you, there is a map of all early voting locations in suburban Cook County.
  7. If you are not an Illinois resident, you should vote in your home state!

As mentioned above, the Republican and Democratic parties are holding their primary elections on March 15th. The field for presidential candidates could change, which often happens after Super Tuesday. However, this does not change your duty as a voter. You have the opportunity to cast your vote for your party’s nomination in several races. This includes national positions, such as United States Senator, as well as for very important local positions, like Circuit Judges.

Finding balanced and unbiased information about the candidates can be difficult. The Illinois State Board of Elections provides a complete list of all the candidates running for a position in this primary cycle. You can determine your voting districts by using either their desktop or mobile application. A recommended third-party site is BallotReady. Its expressed mission is to empower the voter by providing easy access to information about the election, the candidates, and any referendum. BallotReady allows voters to compare and contrast candidates in each position and examine each person based their stances to specific key issues.

Happy Voting!

 

Harper Lee, 1926-2016

Harper Lee, author of To Kill a Mockingbird and its sequel Go Set a Watchman, died today at the age of 89.

A native of Monroeville, Alabama, Lee was 34 when To Kill a Mockingbird was published in 1960. The success of the novel, and its immediate connection to the current political and cultural climates, led quickly to the production of a film adaptation starring Gregory Peck. The movie was released in 1962, and received 3 Academy Awards, including Best Actor for Peck and Best Screenplay Adaptation. The book was also the recipient of a number of awards, including the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction in 1961.

In 1964, Lee declined to give any more interviews, citing her exhaustion with answering the same questions again and again. She also wrote no more novels. When it was announced that a sequel to To Kill a Mockingbird would be published in 2015, questions were raised about its authenticity, and Lee’s actual intentions.

Harper Lee was one of the 20th century’s most renowned and celebrated authors. To read her novels, watch the film version of To Kill a Mockingbird, or learn more about her, check out one of the items below.

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