Most of us have read at least one “classic” work of fiction. Novels like Steinbeck’s The Grapes of Wrath, Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird, or Ellison’s The Invisible Man are often considered part of the American literary cannon, and appear on on may must-read book lists. However, in addition to these fiction works, there are also many non-fiction titles to add to your list. Here are just two non-fiction works from the Science and Technology Department that record significant events, ideas, and discoveries in American history.
Silent Spring by Rachel Carson, 1962
Rachel Carson was an American marine biologist and a writer. Her writings, especially Silent Spring, were instrumental in starting the environmental movement in America, and banning the use of the pesticide, DDT. Silent Spring details ways in which chemicals from pesticides are damaging to wildlife, and imagines a dystopian world in which wildlife has nearly vanished.
The Double Helix by James Watson, 1968
James D. Watson, along with Francis Crick and Maurice Wilkins, won the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine in 1962. The award recognized their discoveries concerning the molecular structure of DNA. The Double Helix is Watson’s autobiographical account of the discovery. In 2012, the book was named as one of 88 “Books that Shaped America” by the Library of Congress.
If you’re still feeling the luck of the Irish from yesterday’s St. Paddy’s Day festivities, why not continue the celebration with a selection of music from the St. Louis Public Library? Not only do we have a great selection of recorded and downloadable music, but, for all you musicians out there, we also have an amazing collection of scores. Like most of our printed materials, our collection of musical scores and sheet music goes back to the turn of the 20th century, so you will be sure to find some pretty deep cuts if you’re willing to dig. For example, “Irish Folk Songs” (cover pictured), published in 1897, includes songs like “The Cuckoo Madrigal”, “The Brave Irish Lad”, and “The Jug of Punch”.
Lisa Lehmann’s “Songs of Good Luck”, 1913, may not be traditional Irish music, but it is definitely related in spirit, and also has a charming cover illustration:
To find more sheet music, you can do an advanced search on our catalog. Enter your search query in the “word or phrase” field (“Irish Music” was used for the music featured here) and limit your results to “musical recordings and scores” in the “materials” field.
The results will display in reverse chronological order, so to find older scores and sheet music (as opposed to CDs, which will constitute the bulk of your results) go to the last page, and work your way backwards.
…and if you start early enough, you may have just enough time to perfect a couple of numbers before next year!
Good luck and happy browsing!
The St. Louis Public Library’s newly restored and modernized Central Library, and its architectural firm, Cannon Design, have been named as a top 5 finalist in the Architizer’s A+ awards in the category for libraries. Congratulations, Central!!
Voting is on! –Help us win this prestigious architectural award. Vote now and spread the word–we have until March 8.
Today marks the 100th birthday of British Paleoanthropologist, Mary Leakey (1913-1996). If you haven’t noticed already, she is featured in today’s “Google Doodle”, which is how I came to learn about her–thanks Google!
In a nutshell, Mrs. Leakey is famous for her discoveries of ancient tools, footprints, and skulls, including the first fossilized Proconsul skull, an extinct ape now believed to be ancestral to humans. Librarians will be pleased to know that she also developed a method for classifying the ancient tools that she and her husband discovered on an expedition in Olduvai Gorge, Africa. Not only did she have excellent organizational skills, but she was also a talented illustrator. you can see her field drawings of stone axes, hammers, and scrapers in our copy of Adam’s Ancestors (1934), a book about human fossils written by her husband, Louis Leakey. In the preface, Louis credits her illustrations using her maiden name, Nicols. They were married two years after the book was published, so I guess you could say they really “dug” each other (yes, I’m a pun dork).
For more information about Mary Leakey, check out Disclosing the Past, her 1984 autobiography. It is available in the stacks at Central Library. You can make a request for it on our website, or just ask one of us to grab it for you when you’re here.
Note: The images in this post are from the fourth edition of Adam’s Ancestors (1960). They are details from figures 17, and 29. This edition is also available at the St. Louis Public Library.
Stop by the Science and Technology Department of the newly renovated Central Library, and you’ll notice our beautiful new wall graphics. The images were hand-picked by library staff, and represent the wide-ranging subject areas in the 500-600 section of the Dewey Decimal System.
Of these graphics, one of my favorites is a 3′X5′ picture of Dusel–a horse immortalized by English photographer, Eadweard Muybridge. The image resembles a film strip, and captures stills of Dusel and his rider trotting along in a strange, stark white room, which is actually the photographer’s highly controlled and scientific studio. Although the work is primarily intended as a scientific document, it also creates a wonderfully weird tension between art and nature, which is typical of Muybridge’s photography.
Muybride made it his life work to record movement, specifically the movements of humans and animals. In doing so, he made significant technical and artistic contributions to the fields of science, photography, and film. His most seminal work, Animal Locomotion, was published in 1887, and contains thousands upon thousands of still images of creatures great and small. It is a testament to his obsession with capturing motion.
The St. Louis Public Library is fortunate to own a selection of plates form the original 11-volume, 1887 edition–and it is truly remarkable to see them first hand. To see the complete set, ask for our copy of the 1979 edition, published by Dover. If you just want to visit Dusel, who I am hereby unofficially declaring as the Science and Technology mascot, you can gallop, sunter, amble, trot, or just walk on down to the library.
This perky pug (I love the title “A Hot Sport”–you can barely make it out in the bottom right) is part of our stereograph card collection in the Special Collections Department of the Saint Louis Public Library.
If you’re wondering why you’re seeing double, its because stereograph cards are designed to create a three dimensional image when two near-identical images are viewed through a stereoscope–a picture viewing device that looks like a cross between a masquerade mask and steam-punk goggles. It works by tricking the brain to make a composite of two flat images, which appear three dimensional when put together.
Stereoscope technology was invented in the mid-19th century, and was popular in American parlors (along with the term “parlor”) through the end of WWI. The device was used to view all kinds of images, from the everyday to the exotic. Most of the stereographs in our collection are travel pictures that depict people and places from around the world (the dog is kind of an anomaly in our collection, which is what makes him so special to me).
If you’re interested in learning more about the stereoscope, check out our copy of Two Points of View, the history of the parlor stereoscope by Harold F. Jenkins, 1957 (a gem in itself, albeit a bit worn from decades of use). If you just like dogs in stove pipe hats like I do, come and see “Hot Sport” for yourself. Our Special Collections Department (along with the rest of Central Library) will reopen to the public on December 9th.
…another gem from the collection of the St. Louis Public Library!
Festival Dances of Mexico by Carlos Mérida, 1943
Carlos Mérida (1891-1984) was a Guatemalan artist who was known primarily as a painter and printmaker. As an assistant to Mexican muralist, Diego Rivera in the 1920′s, Mérida helped create some of the most politically powerful murals in Mexico City.
The images featured in this post are from Festival Dances of Mexico, a suite of 10 unbound lithographs published in 1943. Although much of Mérida’s artwork during this period was abstract, showing the influence of European art movements including Cubism, these prints show the artist’s interest in recording regional Mexican culture and tradition using a figurative style. The playful use of bright colors captures the spirit of the costumes and dances, and the patterns are suggestive of musical rhythms. In some of the prints, the figures seem to float above the ground, which adds to an overall sense of livliness and joy.
You can check out these and other Mérida prints in person at the Barr Branch of the St. Louis Public Library, located at 1701 S. Jefferson Ave. They are on view from now until June 1st. Or, stop by the Cental Express Library to view screenprints from Mexican Costume Design, another great collection of prints by Mérida–also on view through May.