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The Air We Breathe: Nature and Science Staff Picks

posted: , by Elizabeth
tags: Library Collections | Recommended Reads | Adults | Seniors | Science & Technology | Readers Writers

 

In May our staff explores Nature and Science at the library—subjects that inspire wonder, attention, exploration, and care.  

 

 

Nora’s Picks 

Robert Macfarlane’s Landmarks, alternating between reflections on place and language and regional glossaries of natural phenomena in the British Isles, is a transformative look at human relationships with nature. Macfarlane offers gems like blinter (“dazzle, but with a particular sense of cold dazzle: winter stars or ice splinters catching low midwinter sunlight”) alongside crittlecronksfireflacht, and hundreds of other culturally specific words that fly off the tongue with delight to form visions. The foundation of Landmarks is one of reciprocity: our relationships with our landscapes are shaped by our language but, so too, our language is shaped by the earth, sea, sky, and land—by the particularities of the places where we rise, walk, settle, or gripe about geeve (“almost imperceptible fine rain that nevertheless gets you wet and cold quickly”). Within the treasure trove of reader-submitted words that end the book lies that which best sums up what happens when we attend to our natural surroundings: 

 cynefin   place of belonging  Welsh

 If Landmarks inspires you to engage in the act of noticing, Mary Holland’s Naturally Curious is the ultimate field guide to alert the inquisitive investigator to signs of seasonal change and natural life in New England. Maybe after some trips out with Holland’s month-by-month guide, you’ll feel attentive and empowered enough to compose your own glossary of the land. 

 

 

Marie’s Picks 

I’m grateful for the athletes and artists who capture the beauty of extreme mountain environments. Check out Meru and Free Solotwo breathtaking documentaries in the PPL collection, both co-directed by Elizabeth Chai Vasarhelyi and Jimmy Chin. They could be seen as films about human accomplishments, but truly, they are odes to the mountains themselves, and to the unforgiving intensity of nature. 

 

 

Elizabeth’s Picks 

When I moved here, years ago, after a life in Chicago, St. Louis and Atlanta—places I loved for many reasons, yet steeped in billboards, developments, malls, concrete and traffic—Maine’s coasts and forests, mountains and lakes, wildlife and wetlands felt precious and rare.  

My three picks are newer books that celebrate the ocean, relationships, and interconnectedness 

As an adult, I love children’s book author and illustrator Andrea Tsurumi’s candid, thoughtful gaze at life and her reflections in pen and ink and color and words. Her new picture book is a recent favorite, and, curious, I read about what inspired her. “Why did I make Crab Cake? A picture book about a cake-baking crab confronting a huge ecological disaster?” she reflects wryly, quietly. “As a kid, I [was often] overwhelmed by giant, complex and messy problems…but in the face of disaster, people can respond with love and action.” 

Yvonne Adhiambo Owuor’s novel The Dragonfly Sea celebrates one woman’s relationship with the sea, her loved ones, and Pate, her island home off the Swahili Coast; in its lyricism Owuor’s work also carefully examines foreign states and the government in modern Kenya and their impacts on individuals, communities, and the environment. The story came to Owuor while “Loving the ocean, dreaming of its many lives…[and] the other question of what China’s return to Eastern Africa through the seas might imply for small intimate histories, and what the responses of the ‘ordinary people’ might be.” An engrossing, brilliant novel.  

Susan Hand Shetterly’s The Seaweed Chronicles is a must-read about seaweed in Maine (and beyond) and the many lives tied up in it—from phytoplankton to eider ducks to our own. 

See also: A Farewell to Ice, Chesapeake Requiem 

 

 

Becca’s Pick  

PBS American Experience’s Rachel Carson is a short and sweet introduction to the famous environmentalist. While it offers key biographical information around her education, career, and the writing of Silent Spring, much of the documentary is devoted to her time living on Southport Island. Her relationship with Dorothy Freeman takes center stage; while they were only neighbors during the summer, their relationship stretched throughout all seasons through their devotional letters. If you are a fan of Rachel Carson and enjoy stories of female friendship and romance – all set on the picturesque Maine seaside – this is a documentary for you.   

 

 

Gail’s Pick 

Do you love nature but aren’t good at remembering the names of any flora or fauna? In The Sense of Wonder, A Celebration of Nature for Parents and Children, Rachel Carson says, don’t worry about it! “I sincerely believe that for the child, and for the parent seeking to guide him, it is not half so important to know as to feel.” I loved this slim volume, with beautiful photos by Nick Kelsh, for its wisdom, encouragement and inspiration. 

 

 

Eileen’s Picks 

Cooking, gardening, home repair.  Birding, rock hounding, star gazing.  Trebuchets, parachutes, flight.  At the heart of it all, there is science.  There are explanations to be found, logic to be had.  We can find them by moving backward through the known or forward into the surprising inevitable. 

For me, understanding most often treads on the heels of words that I find beautiful, not a hallmark of most textbooks.  This precondition made me a disappointment to my longsuffering science and math teachers, and proved detrimental to my grade point average.  

Despite this, there are books that mark my place in comprehending small fractions of the world and the science that makes it tick.  Exhibit A in my continuing education is a mercilessly truncated list of titles that have eased me happily into relationship with the natural world.  What they have in common is that I engaged them willingly and they filled spaces in me that needed filling: gaps in knowledge, holes in holistic understanding, dark corners full of not much.  

A Sand County Almanacby Aldo Leopold (Just beautiful.) 

Hope is the Thing With Feathers: a Personal History of Vanished Birdsby Chris Cokinos (Transporting.  Gripping.  Heart breaking.) 

Ravens in Winterby Bernd Heinrich (Science as adventure.  So much tree climbing!) 

Reading the Forested Landscape: a Natural History of New Englandby Tom Wessels (Seeing the past hidden in plain sight.) 

Naturally Curiousby Mary Holland (Bite-sized pieces about so many things.) 

Exhibit B demonstrates that I am a sucker for the whimsical and possibly tasteless possibilities available.  Just one title here, not because I don’t tread the path of silliness with embarrassing regularity, but because it is my most recent random find.  It is light in tone and weight, informative and answers my favorite kind of question: the one I don’t know I have.  

Does It Fart?: the Definitive Guide to Animal Flatulence by Nick Caruso and Dani Rabaiotti.  I probably won’t be bulk buying it for gift giving, but it is fun.  Now I can respond with authority when someone asks me if cockroaches fart.  I won’t spoil it for you in case you want to read it.  By all means, do read it. 

My wish for everyone is that they find themselves comfortable with wondering how the natural world works.  Not with knowing, but with wondering.  And then I wish for them the time and will to assemble their own pile of books that make them forget that science isn’t their thing. 

Each book takes me by the hand and delivers me to the next.  Thank heaven for that.  It means this merry chase can go on forever, tumbling headlong through a world that is, after all, all about science. 

 

More Resources: Nature and Science Booklists

_________________________ 

As always, thanks for reading. 


RIP John Singleton

posted: , by Patti DeLois
tags: Library Collections | Adults | Teens | Seniors | Art & Culture

 

John Singleton died on Monday, April 29th, at the age of 51, following a stroke. He was the first African American and the youngest director nominated for a Best Director Oscar for his debut film “Boyz n the Hood” in 1991. Singleton was 24 at the time. In 2002, “Boyz n the Hood” was added to the National Film Registry to be preserved by the Library of Congress.

He went on to write and direct several more critically acclaimed films, including “Rosewood,” “Poetic Justice,” and “Baby Boy.” He also directed some television episodes of “Empire” and “American Crime Story,” and he worked as a production assistant on “Pee-Wee’s Playhouse.” Among the films he produced are “Hustle & Flow” and “Black Snake Moan.”

For a list of the Library’s holdings, click here.


PPL Business: A Windfall for Small Businesses

posted: , by Williams Bandoma
tags: Programs & Events | Recommended Reads | Adults | College & Career | Seniors | Business | Government | News

 

When envisioning a public library, what one is likely to imagine are old books on shelves and old librarians with glasses. Libraries do have books; however, every book is not old, and every librarian does not wear glasses. Just like the weather in Maine, we are dynamic, and we continually evolve with new technology and new materials in order to support our growing communities.

In 2018 a total of 145,536 small businesses in Maine (99.3% of Maine businesses) employed a total of 284,658 employees (56.9% of Maine employees). The importance of small business’s contribution to the socio-economic development of Maine cannot be overemphasized.

As we celebrate Small Business Week during the month of May [5th – 11th ], it is helpful to know what PPL Business offers to assist small businesses in the Greater Portland Area. PPL Business focuses on three subject areas: books, databases, and events.

With a concise collection management policy, PPL Business offers a comprehensive collection of physical books covering all subject areas in business and business research. If you are thinking of starting, managing, restructuring, planning, or searching for ways to fund your business, look no further than PPL. We have access to the information and materials you need.

Starting a business can be complicated and PPL’s host of databases can help. Your library card number is your key to accessing all of our resources for your business information needs, from creating to running a business. Databases include but are not limited to: sample business plans, community demographic information, industry trends, competitive intelligence, detailed mailing lists of potential clients, and in-depth market research. You can also download and print legal forms, read full-text trade journals, and access popular magazines in the areas of business and industry.

PPL Business also offers an array of in-person events and programs to support small business owners. In partnership with the Small Business Administration Programs and Services, PPL will host Small Business Administration SBA 101 on May 8th, 2019 at 10 am – 12 pm. Entrepreneurs can also check out our monthly Business Data Workshops where businesses are introduced to the basic techniques on how to use and get the most out of our collection of online databases.

While at PPL, you will have unlimited access to affordable meeting spaces for group gatherings,  quiet (in some cases — virtually silent) and comfortable areas to read, space to do work or conduct research, free access to good quality high-speed wireless internet, Internet-enabled computers, faxes, and photocopiers. We can also refer you to useful community resources.

Portland Public Library’s Business offerings are a gold mine of information for small business-people – you just need to learn how to access our riches!

Happy Small Business Week and thank you to all the small businesses for their contribution to job creation and socio-economic development in the region.

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