Monthly Display | Essay Collections | Spring17

Take the time this month to stop by the Library and check out one these great essay collections on display during May!


Black History Month @ PSC Library

On February 10th, 1976, President Gerald Ford, in his statement on the creation of Black History Month, wrote that as a nation we should “seize the opportunity to honor the too-often neglected accomplishments of black Americans in every area of endeavor throughout our history.” However, the founding of Black History Month dates back further than President Ford’s “Message” and has a history before the official recognition by the United States government. This Month’s history first began in 1915 and is closely tied with Chicago.

Dr. Carter G. Woodson, an alumnus of the University of Chicago, met with four colleagues at the Wabash YMCA in Chicago to form the Association for the Study of Negro Life and History (ASNLH). Through ASNLH and Journal of Negro Life, Dr. Woodson published the scholarly works of Black researchers and intellectuals. In 1925, he used the publishing and organizing power of ASNLH to declare the first Negro History Week in February of 1926.

Starting in the 1940s, Negro History Week began to shift to Black History Month. At his House of Knowledge in Chicago’s Bronzeville neighborhood, Frederick H. Hammurabi, a community activist, started celebrating Black History Month and emphasized the scholarly pursuit of “African-American history and historic links between African-Americans and African culture and traditions” Hammurabi, who, inspired by his own journey to discover his African roots, helped individuals in Bronzeville discover their own African roots and spread the knowledge of African, African-American, and Afro-Caribbean history and culture.

With this history, the monthly book display, in part, seeks to explore the history of the Black community and culture in Chicagoland. It is a rich and diverse history. It is a history of labor and the industrialization of the United States. It is a history of art and literature and the Black Renaissance. It is also the history of civil rights and the continued fight for social, economic, and political equality. The history includes musicians, athletes, and a President.

Chicago's South Side Bridges of Memory I've got to make my livin' Black Chicago Renaissance

In addition to the glance on material relating to Chicago, this month’s display also examines African history. The history of the continent is deeply rich and complex. It includes the culture, achievements, and life of many distinct and disparate people and civilizations. It spans millennia; it is the cradle of humankind, the birthplace of art and language, home to great and powerful empires, and origins of modern legal and justice systems.

Africa: A Biography of the Continent African History The Washing Of The Spears A History of West Africa


DePaul Digication. “House of Knowledge: Knowledge is Power.” CGCT Bronzeville Community Tour. Accessed February 4, 2016.

Ford, Gerald R. “Message on the Observance of Black History Month.” Speech. February 10, 1976. Gerald R. Ford Presidential Library & Museum.

Scott, Daryl Michael. “Origins of Black History Month.” Association for the Study of African American Life and History. Accessed February 4, 2016.

True Crime on Display @ the Library

sign15Have you been caught up in the true crime hype that has surrounded documentaries such as Serial, The Jinx, or Making a Murderer and are looking for something new to check out? Or maybe if you are just a fan of True Crime as a genre. If so, the Library has a display up this month on True Crime stories.

Here you can find classics of the genre such as Truman Capote’s, In Cold Blood: A True Account of Murder and Its Consequences, which investigates a 1959 murder investigation that had no apparent motive and very little clues.  You can also check out some newer tales, such as Jill Leovy’s, Ghettoside: A True Story of Murder in America, which covers a apparent random murder on the streets of LA, that tragically effects the community it occurs in. If you want to go on the hunt for murders, you can  take a look at Kill Pablo: The Hunt for the World’s Greatest Outlaw by Mark Bowden, which covers the hunt for and capture of Pablo Escobar, which has recently been dramatized in the Netflix series, Narcos. In addition to these tales, we also have books on display about investigations, trials, and what goes into making an arrest.

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.

How Did That Start: Earth Day


[Earth Day was created] to inspire a public demonstration so big it would shake the political establishment out of its lethargy and force the environmental issue onto the national political agenda
-Senator Gaylord Nelson (D-WI) 1970

For many people Earth Day is a chance to think about what being mindful of the how the things that they do impacts the Earth as well as giving them a chance to try and lessen their impact on the environment. During this time several organizations and government agencies promote events around Earth Day, including right here Prairie State College, where during the month of April, you can always find a Sustainability Event to attend. But this begs the question … How Did Earth Day Start?

Although Earth Day has an actual origin date (April 22, 1970), several contributing factors led to its actual start. In the 1960s, technology in the United States had increased the amount of media coverage which the average citizen had access to. Because of this, events such as the Santa Barbara Oil Spill and the Cuyahoga River Blaze now became visible and the  human impact on the environment could be easily seen by any person. Also by the 1970s, activists such as Rachel Carson had published her landmark book Silent Spring and Secretary of Interior Stewart Udall had published The Quiet Crisis. Additionally, by this time Congress had enacted the Outdoor Recreation Resources Review Commission and President Kennedy had taken his Natural Resources Tour. So, rather than a starting point of an the environmental movement in the United States, the beginnings of Earth Day represented the moment in time when environmentalism entered the mainstream.

Having spoken on environmental issues … during the twelve years before Earth Day, I knew the public was far ahead of the political establishment in its concern for what was happening to the environment. The signs of degradation were everywhere – polluted rivers, lakes, beaches, oceans, and air.”
-Senator Nelson

The actual celebration of Earth Day began with Senator Gaylord Nelson (D-Wi) who, inspired by the anti-Vietnam demonstrations and “teach-ins” decided that it would beneficial to the public to set a large-scale teach-in to educate the general public about the importance of environmental issues. He chose the date, April 22nd, to coincide with Arbor Day, and so that it would not interfere with Finals Week at college campuses. Although the day was set up by Nelson along with Republican Representative Paul McCloskey, it was really the efforts of Denis Hayes, an environmentalist student who together with the group Environmental Action worked, to coordinate the day.

Earth Day 1970 made it clear that we could summon the public support, the energy, and commitment to save our environment. And while the struggle is far from over, we have made substantial progress.”
-Senator Nelson

During the first Earth Day, nearly two thousand colleges and universities, ten thousand high schools, and grade school and several thousand communities participated. The estimated total number of Americans that were actively engaged in the day ranged in the 20 millions. Throughout cities such as New York, San Fransisco and Chicago, large crowds gathered to hear speeches from politicians, poets and ecologists. Students in Washington D.C. attended a concert held in front of the Washington Monument. Colleges and Universities held programs such as “wreck-ins” or tree planting. The University of Wisconsin, alone, held fifty-eight separate programs for the event and Senator Thomas McIntrye (D-NH) set the record for most speeches given in a day with 14.

Since the 1970s, the celebration of Earth Day has embedded and flowed, depending on the administration in power. But as you sit back on the 45th anniversary of its beginning, think about what the importance of the day means to yourself, and how you can better help the only planet we have. With that in mind, stop down at the library this month and check out some of these great titles we have on display.

Further Resources

Women’s History Month

March is Women’s History Month.  Of course, your Prairie State College Library has a variety of books concerning women’s history.  The library also carries many books about women of today–their stories, concerns, and the events that will be part of women’s history in the future.

Here are just a few examples of what the library has to offer on the subject.  These titles and others can be found on the bookcase just outside the Prairie State College Library classroom.


One Book: American Born Chinese

OneBook: Introduction

Every year the Prairie State College Library selects one book as part of its “One Book” community-wide program to promote literacy and discussion. As you have probably heard, this year’s One Book is “American Born Chinese” by Gene Yang, a graphical novel focusing on three seemingly unrelated, yet interrelated stories dealing with Chinese American identity and American culture.

In preparation for the community’s program on this book, the Prairie State College Library is highlighting some interesting books available on display that relate to the theme of this book. On this display, you will find books on the history of the Chinese Americans, popular Chinese tales, among other topics.  You can find books on all these topics, including those listed below, on the “OneBook” display located next to the Library Classroom.



Video Game Month at The PSC Library


video-controlleDid you know that close to sixty percent of all Americans play video games?  (Entertainment Software Association 2-3).

      This month Prairie State College Library is celebrating video games, by highlighting some of the interesting books that are available for students to check out. We have many books on game design and production, the history video games, as well as books on specific game franchises.



       The origin of video games can be traced back to the mid 1940’s and early 1950’s. In the early 1950’s, the first games were created at military and research institutions, including a chess and card game, a war defense simulation, as well as a game called “Tennis for Two,” which was created at the Brookhaven National Laboratory  (The Strong; Brookhaven National Laboratory). Starting in the late 1960’s and early 1970’s, the first game consoles known as the “Brown Box” and the “Odyssey” were released, allowing people for the first time to play games  within the comfort of their home (Time Inc; The Strong). This trend continued into the late 1970’s and 1980’s with the release of the Atari console in 1977, and the first Nintendo system in 1985 (The Strong).  Today, video games can be played on numerous platforms, and the video game industry has grown exponentially, generating an estimated 21.5 billion dollars in 2013 (Entertainment Software Association 13). In addition, it is estimated that today close to sixty percent of the U.S. population plays video games, with the average total number of years someone playing being 14 (Entertainment Software Association 2-3). But have you ever considered the industry itself, and how video games are made? Did you know that Prairie State College offers a certificate in “Game Design and Development” ?


       There are many career paths you can take to working in the game industry. This includes working as a game designer, game artist, programmer, among other things. (Creative Uncut). Those that are interested in the video game industry will be surprised to know that games are not created as quickly as you may think, and can take years to develop (TheArtCareerProject). There are many things that go into the process, and it can be a difficult career ((TheArtCareerProject). Nevertheless, it is predicted that in the next ten years, job growth for video game designers is expected to increase some 27 percent (CNN Money). Those interested in pursing such a career, should check out Prairie State College’s  certificate in “Game Design and Development.”

Want to learn more about the history of video games, how to make games, or a career in the game industry?  Check out the “Video Games Display” near the Library Classroom to find the books listed below, as well as other interesting books on the subject!

referenced works

“A History of Video Game Consoles.” Time. Time Inc., n.d. Web. 10 Sept. 2014. <;.

Essential Facts About The Computer and Video Game Industry. Entertainment Software Association, 2014. Web. 10 Sept. 2014. pdfs/esa_ef_2014.pdf>.

“The First Video Game?” Brookhaven National Laboratory. U.S. Department of Energy, n.d. Web. 10 Sept. 2014. <;.

“Video Game Designer.” CNN Money. Cable News Network, 12 Nov. 2013. Web. 8 Sept. 2014. <;.

“Video Game Design Careers.” TheArtCareerProject. TheArtCareerProject , n.d. Web. 10 Sept. 2014. .

“VIDEO GAME DESIGN CAREER PATHS.” Creative Uncut. Creative Uncut, n.d. Web. 10 Sept. 2014. <;.

“Video Game History Timeline.” The Strong. The Strong, n.d. Web. 8 Sept. 2014. <;.

Who Will Win the World Cup?

brasil fifaThat is an excellent question. As the Cup has just gotten underway, we’re still almost a month away from learning who will outplay everyone else. By the way, if you’re unfamiliar with what the Cup is, this is an international soccer/fútbol event. It is held by FIFA, and this year Brazil is hosting the Cup.

There are lots of great online resources to use to keep up with the Cup. There is a schedule to see when all the games are, the official FIFA website, Univision – where you can watch games live on your computer (click “En Vivo” along the top), and more. Even just searching social media for #worldcup on Twitter or doing a Google search for “world cup” will bring up many sources. Google will show the day’s scores, too.

Maybe you want to go beyond the net and see what other sources are out there. Maybe you want more of a history than a simple Wikipedia page can cover. I would suggest The ESPN World Cup Companion: Everything you need to know about the planet’s biggest sporting event. The title really says it all. Perhaps you’d like to learn about women’s soccer on a global platform and how it plays out socially and culturally. Then I’d recommend Beyond Bend it like Beckham: The global phenomenon of women’s soccer. If you want something more general, we have a shorter history of soccer in Ultimate Soccer.

The ESPN World Cup companion : everything you need to know about the planet's biggest sporting event 	Beyond bend it like Beckham : the global phenomenon of women's soccer Ultimate soccer

If soccer isn’t your style, you can always look at the cultural side of the World Cup. Search for books about countries with teams in the World Cup such as Mexico, Nigeria, Germany, or Russia. There’s the artsy side including the architecture of the new stadiums built in Brazil. Check out Paulo Mendes da Rocha : projects 1957-2007 about a Brazilian architect. Learn more about Brazil, the host country, historically and culturally through books on campus. These and other books can be found on our World Cup book display.

Check it out today!

How Did That Start: Getting from St. Patrick to St. Patrick’s Day

St Patties

You’ve heard, I suppose, long ago,
How the snakes in a manner most antic,
He marched to the County Mayo,
And trundled them into th’Atlantic. Hence not to use water for drink
The people of Ireland determine With mighty good reason, I think,
Since St Patrick has filled it with vermin,
And vipers and other such stuff. – WILLIAM MAGINN

Who was St. Patrick

In roughly 430 AD, a young Roman living in Britain, named Patricius, was wandering about his father’s lands when a fleet of 50 currachs (longboats) weaved its way toward the shore. These boats were helmed by Irish Raiders, whose quickly came in, burned down the village, and whisked young Patricius along with other villagers away. At the time there was no Roman army to protect them (Roman legions had long since deserted Britain to protect Rome from barbarian invasions).

After being sold off to a goat herder (other accounts say a Warrior Chief), Patricius spent the next six years of his life as slave, living in conditions with little to no food and water, and working long grueling days. It was here in his time of misery where he turned to God. Upon his sixth year in captivity, Patricius, received a vision/dream in which an unknown man named Victorious came to him with a letter that said “a ship is waiting for you 200 miles away.” Desperate for his freedom, Patrick, escaped from his captor, and fled 200 miles, where he found a group of trader ships.

Little is known about Patrick’s life upon returning to his family in Britain. But after a number of years, Victorious once again appeared to Patrick and once again gives him a letter from Ireland. This one states  “We appeal to you holy servant boy to come and walk among us.” Patrick, who was now a member of the Church, interpreted this as his calling to become a missionary to Ireland. After convincing his Bishop to allow him to go, Patrick began the mission of converting the pagans of Ireland to Christianity.

There are several tall tales about Patrick’s conversion of Ireland. One of them claims that the absence of snakes in Ireland gave rise to the legend that they had all been banished by St. Patrick chasing them into the sea after they attacked him during a 40-day fast he was undertaking on top of a hill (although there has been several scientific claims that demonstrate that Ireland is not a conducive environment for snakes to live).  Because of this legend you will typically see St. Patrick depicted with the staff of the prophet Moses (which is taking from the story in Exodus 7:8–7:13, where Moses and Aaron use their staffs in their struggle with Pharaoh’s sorcerers, the staffs of each side morphing into snakes. Aaron’s snake-staff prevails by consuming the other snakes). Another legend has him subverting the druid/pagan concept that a shamrock represented death and rebirth through the goddesses Brigid, Ériu, and the Morrigan and replacing it with a metaphor for the holy trinity.

What is known, from the only two published works of St. Patrick, Confessio (which you can find the eBook here) and Declaration, is that he had a very methodical plan when it came to converting Ireland. Now, at the time, Ireland was not an organized whole, but rather a collection of kingdoms, with each kingdom being ruled over by a king. Patrick’s theory was that if he could convert the king then the rest of the kingdom would fall in line by him. So Patrick would travel from kingdom to kingdom and if the kingdom would achieve enough converts then he would build a church and leave local “disciples” in charge as ordained ministers. He would also take with him any princes or princesses of a converted kingdom for education and fostering. In this way, Patrick made his way through Ireland, and despite the Druids hold over the religion of the land, he managed to almost fully convert the island. And while the conversion of Ireland was his most important contribution, he also managed to end slavery on the island

From that point on St. Patrick would become a national staple of Ireland, and as soon as 797 AD, the people of Ireland began to celebrate the day of his death, March 17th.

Further Reading

Cagney, M. (1998). Patrick The Saint. Christian History17(4), 10.

From St. Patrick to Modern St. Patrick’s Day

Saint Patrick’s Day parade in New York’s Union Square, 1870. (Library of Congress) found using Credo Reference

So how did we go from a guy who spread Christianity to a pagan/heathen/barbarian island to the modern secular holiday that we know enjoy? That, like Patrick’s ancestry, can be traced back to Britain. In the mid-19th century, Britain, ruled over the lands of Great Britain with an iron-fist. One nation that they were particularly hard on was the Irish.

In the 19th century, Britain only allowed the Irish to grow potatoes for consumable goods. Everything else (like wheat, for instance) was imported back to Britain. So during the late 1840s to 1850s, when the Great Potato Famine, struck Ireland, it devastated the nations food supply. Hungry and desperate, most of the people struck for opportunity in the United States. But, at the time, being Irish was seen as stigma (spurred on by British media) and the average Irish American spent most of their time being harassed. Seeking a common ground to find a source of nationalism and cultural identity, many Irish Americans began to use St. Patrick’s Day to commemorate their past and to unite as culture. While no formal construct was created, in places such as New York City, Irishmen would hold speeches and debates, pubs would contain celebrations and families would cook authentic Irish meals. From that point on and owing to a let up on stigmatizing Irish, St. Patrick’s Day would grow into a secular holiday that celebrates the culture and history of Ireland.

Further Reading

Manning, M.(2006). Saint Patrick’s day parades. In Ireland and the Americas: Culture, politics, and history. Retrieved from Credo Reference.

Moss, K. (1995). St. Patrick’s Day celebrations and the formation of Irish-American identity, 1845-1875. Journal Of Social History29(1), 125.

Perry, G. (1953). The Irish Take Over New York. Saturday Evening Post225(37), 22-91.

Want to find out more on St. Patrick’s Day, Ireland, and Irish history and customs? If your answer is yes, stop by the Library in March and check our display of St. Patrick’s Day or check out some of these books listed below.