Wednesday, February 29, 2012

All in Good Time

It's an odd tradition ... but a necessary one.

Every four years (more or less; more on that later), we tack on an extra day to the month of February. It's a variation on a tradition that's been around since the days of Julius Caesar (whose Julian calendar was introduced in 46 B.C.E.). The difficulties of accurate timekeeping were a problem even in Caesar's day, when it turned out that an actual, seasonal year (or "tropical year") is about a quarter of a day longer than the calendar year. A leap day was added every four years to correct this imbalance -- but inadvertently created another imbalance in its place, averaging out to a calendar year that was longer than the tropical one by approximately 0.0078 days. Not a problem in the short term, but by the sixteenth century A.D., the effects were adding up. Every century, the calendar year and the tropical year became off-kilter from each other by another 3/4ths of a day; by the sixteenth century, the beginning of spring had shifted from March 23 to March 11.

It was Pope Gregory XIII who instituted a new calendar in 1582 (the Gregorian calendar, if you notice a pattern). This new calendar was also intended to match the cycle of the seasons -- but with tropical years not consisting of whole days, the need for a "leap" system was still a necessity. But how to fix the Julian imbalance? The new Gregorian calendar instituted a new rule: years divisible by four would be leap years, except for centurial years that are not also divisible by 400. (That means that 1700, 1800, 1900, and 2100 aren't leap years; but 1600, 2000, and 2400 are.) Keeping the "leap days" in check allow for a more accurate correction to the calendar year; it's going to take 3,300 years before the Gregorian calendar falls even one day out of sync with the seasons.

But leap years aren't the only method in which we make adjustments in our timekeeping in order to keep our calendars and clocks in sync with nature. There's also leap seconds -- occasions when civilian time is adjusted in order to keep our atomic clocks more or less in sync with the actual rotational time of the Earth. (The USNO works to keep it within a 0.9 second difference.) With the "second" technically defined as the length of time it takes the Earth to make 1/86,400th of a rotation on the average solar day, it had been noted by the 1950s that the Earth's rotation was not at a consistent enough speed to hold against our standard of time. The "second" was redefined in 1956 by the International Committee for Weights and Measures, basing the unit instead on a fraction of the Earth's revolution around the Sun in a particular period. But to keep things even further in check, leap seconds allow for, well, the most minute of adjustments when necessary. (Our next "leap second" will be added on June 30 this year, the first in nearly four years.)

Coming as I do from a punctuality-challenged family, the history of timekeeping is something I find interesting. It is, in some respects, a somewhat recent invention ("recent," at least, by the standards of history!) -- and keeping time with manmade mechanics (instead of by the position of the sun and stars, or by other such natural means as water clocks) is an even newer phenomenon.

Timekeeping allows us not only to track our day-to-day tasks and activities -- but it also, in its small way, gives us a method of imposing a little order to an otherwise disorderly universe. (Even if keeping that order requires the occasional adjustment!)  So celebrate this most unusual of dates by checking out a few sites (and even a movie!) about the ins and outs of keeping time:

From the U.S. Naval Observatory:

- An Introduction to Calendars

- Leap Years

- Leap Seconds

- In a Leap Year, What a Difference a Day Can Make: from the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

- A Walk Through Time: The Evolution of Time Management Through the Ages: from the National Institute of Standards and Technology

- The Leap Year: TimeAndDate.Com

- Leap Year: 10 Things About 29 February: BBC News Magazine

- Leap Year [DVD]: stars Amy Adams in this new romantic comedy about February 29th.

-- Post by Ms. B

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Miracle on Ice

I love hockey. I love everything about it. It's not like any other sport. There is constant action and excitement. And there is nothing like being at a hockey game -- the sound of the stick hitting the puck, a player being hit into the boards, the roar of the crowd.

Although I went to my first hockey game when I was nine (way back in the 70s), my real love affair didn't really start until a certain group of young men from the United States won a Gold Medal at the 1980 Winter Olympics in Lake Placid, NY. Of course, the moment most people remember is the USA defeating the Soviet Union on February 22, 1980, in what has become known as The Miracle On Ice. They weren't supposed to win. The Soviets were the best hockey players in the world. Arguably, they were better than any National Hockey League team at the time. In an exhibition session leading up to the Olympics, the Soviets had a 5-3-1 record against NHL teams. The Soviets also beat the USA 10-3, just days before the start of the Winter Olympics. No one believed the US had any chance of any medal, let alone gold -- and no one would have thought they would beat the Soviets, including the Soviets themselves.

But Coach Herb Brooks believed. He had been studying the Soviet style of hockey for years and he was confident that the group of young men he had chosen for the team were capable of doing that. He wasn't always popular with his players, but in the end they followed his plan and they succeeded. In a very famous scene from the film Miracle, Kurt Russell gives the big speech that Herb Brooks delivered to his team during that game.

By the time the US and the Soviet Union played on February 22nd, this team of college hockey players had already started to capture the imagination of a country. Most Americans didn't know much about the game of hockey, but with all of the troubles the country was experiencing at the time (American hostages being held in Iran and a crumbling economy), the team gave the country something to rally around and something to believe in.

The success of the US team in 1980 led to a huge interest in hockey in this country, especially by young boys and girls, who wanted to play the game. Back then, a very small minority of Americans played in the NHL, and today about 25% of the league are Americans. And even though the US hasn't won a Gold medal since 1980, they are now considered one of the elite teams in international hockey, alongside Canada and Russia.

There has been one major motion picture, one made-for-tv film, and one documentary about this event:

Miracle (2004) - Stars Kurt Russell as Herb Brooks in a very moving performance.

Miracle On Ice (1981) - This made-for-television film starred Karl Malden and Steve Guttenberg. Unfortunately, there are no copies of this in the Allegheny County Library system and it doesn't seem to be available on YouTube or Hulu.

Do You Believe in Miracles? The Story of the 1980 U.S. Hockey Team (2001) - This is an HBO documentary narrated by Liev Schrieber.

And if you are looking for something to read, in addition to the DVDs:

The Boys of Winter: The Untold Story of a Coach, a Dream, and the 1980 U.S. Olympic Hockey Team by Wayne Coffey

Going For the Gold: How the U.S Olympic Hockey Team Won at Lake Placid by Tim Wendel

Miracle on Ice by Alan Pierce

-- Post by Tracy

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Birthday Biography: Forever Aunt Erma

"Seize the moment. Think of all those women on the 'Titanic' who waved off the dessert cart."

When I was a junior in high school, our English class was given an assignment to read and report on a biography or memoir. The catch: when we presented our report to the class, we had to do it in character as the subject of our assignment.

For me, the assignment was a no-brainer. I went with author Erma Bombeck -- choosing a book I'd read a few years ago, in which she'd written about the ups and downs and true quirks of married life. It was the first Erma Bombeck book I'd ever read -- although, by eleventh grade, I'd already read quite a few of them.

Erma Bombeck was an American humorist who specialized in poking fun at the everyday life of the suburban homemaker. Her syndicated newspaper column first appeared in 1965 and ran for over thirty years (eventually appearing in over 4,000 papers). Over the course of her career, she published 15 books, most of which would go on to be best-sellers.

And here I was, a kid who had still been in elementary school when she'd first picked up an Erma Bombeck book and had promptly fallen in love. Some people seemed baffled that the misadventures of a mid-Western housewife would appeal to me, but to me they all missed the point: Erma Bombeck was funny. How could I not love her?

- "A friend never defends a husband who gets his wife an electric skillet for her birthday. A friend will tell you she saw your old boyfriend -- and he's a priest."

- "The odds of going to the store for a loaf of bread and coming out with only a loaf of bread are three billion to one."

- "When a child is locked in the bathroom with water running and he says he's doing nothing but the dog is barking, call 911."

- "Sometimes I can't figure designers out. It's as if they flunked human anatomy."

Bombeck was born Erma Louise Fiste on February 21, 1927. She lived with her older sister Thelma and parents in Dayton, Ohio. Growing up, she loved taking tap-dance lessons and playing with Thelma -- but there was one thing she liked more than just about anything else: books.

Her interest in writing started early -- a natural extension, to Bombeck, of her love of reading. Her first assignment came at Emerson Junior High, writing a humor column for the student paper The Owl. She'd go on to write other columns for Patterson Vocational High School -- and got her first professional gig at age 16, interviewing Shirley Temple for the Dayton Herald. (Bombeck would go on to attend the University of Dayton.)

Her first full-time professional news assignments consisted of obituaries and, later, the women's section of the Dayton Journal-Herald. She'd start to hit her stride with her column "Operation Dustrag," which originally detailed housekeeping hints and tips but quickly became a humor column about the quirky life of the housewife.

Bombeck took some time off from the newspaper business with the adoption of her daughter, which was soon after followed by the birth of her two biological sons. Raising three children kept her more than busy, though she still found time to edit and write for the Dayton Shopping News.

And then, in 1964, Bombeck walked into the office of the editor of the local paper Kettering-Oakwood Times and told him she wanted to write a humor column for him. What began as a $3/column writing gig for the local paper would go on to become a multi-million-dollar career encompassing a syndicated column, books, television appearances, scriptwriting, and national tours on the speakers' circuit. And through it all, Bombeck kept her down-to-earth personality, wit, and sense of humor intact.

She didn't just write humor. Within the funny stories and the witty observations, there was a woman who fiercely loved her husband and children, and who understood that your family can both try your patience and support you through the ups and downs of life. Motherhood and writing were both callings of Bombeck's, and she used each one to guide her path through the other. You can read her love of family -- and of writing -- in every word she wrote.

I love Erma Bombeck because of her insight and wit, her love for her family, and her high good humor. Most of all, I love her because she's made me laugh, so many many times. And you don't even need to be a Midwestern housewife to relate to her.

At least, I don't think you do. My classmates did really enjoy listening to "Erma Bombeck" tell them all about her book. I made them laugh as soon as I announced the title: A Marriage Made in Heaven -- Or, Too Tired For an Affair.

I had a lot of fun with that assignment. How could I not?  Erma Bombeck was already a hero of mine. Getting to "be" her for a few minutes -- well, that was pretty cool.

- "My second favorite household chore is ironing. My first being hitting my head on the top bunk bed until I faint."

- "In two decades I've lost a total of 789 pounds. I should be hanging from a charm bracelet."

- "Once you get a spice in your home, you have it forever. Women never throw out spices. The Egyptians were buried with their spices. I know which one I'm taking with me when I go."

- "Never lend your car to anyone to whom you have given birth."

For more on Erma Bombeck:

- The Life of Erma Bombeck

- The Erma Museum: Online Exhibits: includes photos and PDFs of Bombeck's letters and speeches

- When God Created Mothers: a short story by Erma Bombeck

- Erma Bombeck books @ the Library

- Erma Bombeck audiobooks @ the Library

-- Post by Ms. B

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Happy 500th, Homer

I'll admit it -- I'm more of a South Park fan.

But when it comes to cultural milestones, there's no denying that The Simpsons are in a class by themselves.

Created by Matt Groening, The Simpsons originally ran as a series of animated shorts as part of Fox Network's The Tracey Ullman Show in 1987. Two years later, The Simpsons was adapted into a half-hour animated series, which first aired as a Christmas special on December 17 (entitled "Simpsons Roasting on an Open Fire"). It's been airing on Fox ever since -- going on to become America's longest-running sitcom, animated or otherwise.

The show remains enormously popular (despite some fans debating whether or not the show "jumped the shark" ten seasons ago), and still performs consistently well in the ratings. A movie was released in 2007 -- and this Sunday at 8:00 PM, the show airs its 500th episode.

It's an impressive milestone, to say the least. But its cultural impact might be even more noteworthy. Upon first airing, the show was the first successful primetime, not-just-for-kids animated series to air in over a decade -- making it possible for other animated primetime shows, like my beloved South Park, to follow. (South Park appears to be aware of this, paying wry but affectionate homage to the show in their fifth season episode "Simpsons Already Did It.") Merchandising for the show is a billion-dollar enterprise. And Homer Simpson's famous catchphrase "D'oh!" even appears in the Oxford English Dictionary.

Detractors of the last few seasons will say that the show has gone so far into satire it's become a parody of itself. But fans will tell you the show has only changed its direction -- not lost its heart.

So, to celebrate America's animated family, take a gander at some interviews, trivia, and one very impressive video -- all while you're waiting to catch the 500th episode this Sunday night!

A few Simpsons articles:

- "The Simpsons Turn 500" (the Sydney Morning Herald): Discusses the 500th episode (with guest star Julian Assange), the 2007 movie, and how long the staff really expected to be on the air. Features a video interview with creator Matt Groening.

- Most Episodes Ever? "'Simpsons' to Air No. 500" (the Chicago Sun-Times): Heralds the show as one of only three prime-time series to ever hit the "500" mark, with production staff discussing their theories on the reason for the show's longevity and sharing their favorite episodes.

- At 500 Episodes, How Does "The Simpsons" Say Something New? (The Atlantic): For an academic perspective, take a look at this reflection on the history, politics, and the effects of the show on our own pop culture.

- As "The Simpsons" Approaches 500 Episodes, We Pick a Baker's Dozen Favorite Moments (Pittsburgh Post-Gazette): Lots of articles are being written about the top episodes and moments from The Simpsons' 23-season history. Here's the article closest to home!

- Minor Characters Still Have Stories to Tell on 'Simpsons' (South Bend Tribute): What may be in store in future episodes for the animated family. Features a great interview with Groening.

Has The Simpsons jumped the shark? The experts weigh in:

- The Simpsons Jumped the Shark a Decade Ago (The Guardian): Written in 2007 shortly after The Simpson's 400th episode, the writer accuses the show of having hit its high note over a decade ago.

- 'The Simpsons' 500th Episode: Celebrate an Old Friend (Huffington Post): Loyalty to the Simpsons can be like visiting at a family reunion, in one writer's opinion.

- 'THE SIMPSONS': D'oh! 7 Good Reasons Why You Should Be (Still) Watching (The Washington Post): Using one of my all-time favorite episodes as an example, this writer makes the case that The Simpsons is as sharp as ever this season.

Some of my favorite Simpsons sites:

- Bart Simpson's Chalkboard Quotes: Every episode opens with, of course, The Simpsons' famous theme song, which features a shot of Bart writing lines on the classroom blackboard. A running joke is that what Bart's writing changes every time. See this list for some of the most classic quotes.

- The Simpsons on Hulu: Watch the latest episodes -- or nearly three hundred classic scene clips -- for free on Hulu's website.

- "The Simpsons Are Going to ..." Every Destination, Over 500 Episodes: Take a peek at Slate's phenomenal map showcasing everywhere the Simpsons family has traveled over 23 seasons!

And watch a brilliant interpretation of the Simpsons' theme song -- done with real-life actors:

Come Home To The Simpsons from devilfish on Vimeo.

-- Post by Ms. B

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

First Magazine Published in America: 1741

The first magazine published in America appeared in 1741. Unfortunately, it only lasted three months. And now, in the 21st century (according to the American Society of Magazine Editors), there were over 24,000 magazines published in the US in 2010.  Of course, a large portion of that number probably are very specialized, and therefore have low circulation. But, that shows that there is still an interest in magazines in this country.

Personally, I love magazines. I love the pictures, the articles, the information -- and, yes, even the gossip -- that can be found in magazines. To me, it's a great way to get news and other information that might not be covered in a newspaper or on television.

In my house we subscribe to four magazines, two of which are weeklies. If I had more time (and money), I would probably subscribe to a lot more! But there are plenty of magazines that I can look at, and even check out, here at Monroeville Public Library. And if we don't have it, another library in the county might and I could request it.

Also, our online databases provide full text of many magazines -- some that are available in our library, but many that aren't. All you need is a current Allegheny County Library card. One of the most popular magazines to look at through the database is Consumer Reports. You can search full-text articles back to 1991. The database to use for most magazines is MasterFILE Premier. Once you are in the database, you can search the database just like you would our catalog. But here, you can limit your search to specific magazines, i.e. Consumer Reports. Personally, I've used this quite a lot to find out information about new  appliances and new cars.

Click here for a step-by-step instruction on how to access an article in Consumer Reports.

-- Post by Tracy

Thursday, February 9, 2012

"Climate is what we expect, weather is what we get." -- Mark Twain

As long as I can remember, I have been fascinated by the weather. What I like about it, is that it's always changing. And for a person who doesn't like a whole lot of change in her life, that's a big thing. I could spend hours just watching the clouds move across the sky. I love watching the rain pounding against the window and I love watching the trees swaying in the wind. I have spent countless hours watching the Weather Channel!  I even have a small weather station at home that shows the current temperature, relative humidity, barometric pressure, and wind speed that my wonderful husband bought for me for Christmas one year. 

Despite this love, I don't really know much about the history of weather forecasting at all. So imagine my surprise (and delight) to learn that there is a National Weatherperson's Day commemorating the birth of John Jeffries (February 7, 1745), who was one of America's first weathermen! Mr. Jeffries, who was also a medical doctor, is famous for his hot air balloon flights which were used to collect data about free air. The first flight took place November 30, 1784 above London. In the balloon he carried a thermometer, barometer, electrometer, hyrgrometer, and several other scientific devices. He made twelve observations of temperature, pressure, and humidity. His second (and last) flight took place on January 7, 1785. It started in Dover, England and ended near the forests of Guines, France. Unfortunately, he was unable to take any measurements, since he lost almost all of his scientific equipment due to difficulties with the balloon. Luckily, Jeffries and his partner, Pierre Blanchard, made it safely across the English Channel to France where they were met with a hero's welcome. 

John Jeffries never flew in a hot air balloon again and he went back to America and led a quiet life as a physician. Though he is more well known for his flight across the English Channel, his meteorological experiments should also be remembered.

To learn more about meteorology and weather in general, check out these web sites and books:

The Weather Channel - A great site for current weather conditions in your area or around the world.

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration - This is the official government site for weather and oceanic activity. The National Weather Service is a part of this organization. 

Accuweather - Located in State College, PA, they provide weather conditions for your local area and all around the world. According to their website, they have the greatest number of forecast meteorologists anywhere in the world.


Weather by Dr. Stephen Dorling

Weather Whys: Facts, Myths, and Oddities by Paul Yeager

The AMS Weather Book: The Ultimate Guide to America's Weather by Jack Williams

Extreme Weather: Understanding the Science of Hurricanes, Tornadoes, Floods, Heat Waves, Snow Storms, Global Warming, and Other Atmospheric Disturbances by H. Michael Mogil.

Restless Skies: The Ultimate Weather Book by Paul Douglas

Meteorology Demystified by Stan Gibilisco

Weather: A Visual Guide by Bruce Buckley, Edward J. Hopkins and Richard Whitaker

Weather: How It Works and Why It Matters by Arthur Upgren and Jurgen Stock

Backpacker: Predicting Weather: Forecasting, Planning, and Preparing by Lisa Densmore

Weather: Air Masses, Clouds, Rainfall, Storms, Weather Maps, Climate by Paul E. Lehr

DVD Documentaries:

Tornado Interceptors

Tornado Glory: Experience the Real Chase

Wonders of Weather

Inside Hurricane Katrina

Nature's Fury

Storm Chasers

Storm That Drowned A City

Feature Films where weather plays an important role:

Twister (1996)

Key Largo (1948)

Wizard of Oz (1939)

The Perfect Storm (2000)

The Day After Tomorrow (2004)

-- Post by Tracy

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Birthday Biography: Charles Dickens

Confession time: this English major has never read any Charles Dickens.

I know -- shameful, right? We covered Trollope and Hardy in my 19th-century British Literature class, but somehow we never got around to Dickens.

But of course, the thing about Dickens is that his influence on literature was so great that you don't have to have read his stories to know something about them.

Charles Dickens was born two hundred years ago today, to parents Elizabeth and John Dickens. John was a clerk in the Naval Pay Office and, unfortunately, was somewhat terrible with matters of money. He eventually wound up imprisoned for debt. Incredibly, Elizabeth and the rest of their eight children would soon join John in Marshalsea Prison -- with the exception of Charles himself, who was put to work instead in Warren's Blacking Factory. His father was eventually released and was able to rescue 12-year-old Charles from the factory life, but the experience had already left its mark. Charles spent the next three years as a day pupil at a London school before getting another job at age 15 -- this time as an office boy at an attorney's. By age 17 he was a freelance reporter at Doctor's Commons Courts. He'd studied shorthand during his nights at the attorney's, and by 1832 he was a highly successful shorthand reporter for debates of Parliament in the House of Commons. Dickens's first published stories would begin to appear in 1833, although he'd continue on in his career as a reporter until the runaway success of the serialized novel The Pickwick Papers allowed him to become a full-time novelist. (He'd also publish short pieces under the unusual pen name of "Boz.")

Dickens would marry Catherine Hogarth in 1836 (they'd eventually have ten children), and followed up The Pickwick Papers with Oliver Twist and Nicholas Nickleby. The following two decdes would see the serialized publication of such other novels as David Copperfield, A Tale of Two Cities, and Great Expectations. He'd also tour through Canada and America in 1852 (and create a bit of buzz upon publishing his American Notes, commenting a bit unfavorably on certain American habits such as tobacco chewing).

The work that is perhaps his most famous was first published in December 1844. The short novel A Christmas Carol was the first of several Christmas-themed books that Dickens would produce, but Christmas Carol would, by far, remain his most popular. The story stars Ebenezer Scrooge, a miserly man visited by three Christmas ghosts (of Past, Present, and Future) intent on convincing Scrooge to change his ways. The simple but memorable tale was an instant hit that's been credited with bringing a sense of "Christmas cheer" back to England and America during the era. The novella has never been out of print since its original publication and remains a perennial Christmas classic. It's been brought to life in countless adaptations and variations on the stage and the screen, with the role of Scrooge being played by everyone from Reginald Owen and Basil Rathbone, to Albert Finney and Bill Murray, to Patrick Stewart and Michael Caine -- and, most recently, Jim Carrey, Kelsey Grammer, and even Batman himself.

Of course, Dickens is an author so classic that you don't have to have read any of his works to have felt his influence on literature. From such famous lines as "It was the best of times, it was the worst of times" and "Please sir, I want some more" to such characters as Scrooge, Marley, Pip, Miss Havisham, and Oliver Twist, Dickens's work has become an indelible part of popular culture. (The character of Pip has even made an appearance on the animated show South Park.)

So if, like me, you'd like to know more about Dickens -- but aren't quite ready to dive into Bleak House just yet (I've been trying to read that one for awhile) -- check out the links below for more about this literary giant.

(And, while we're making confessions: I've never read any Jane Austen either. Then again, she was born in December, so I've got some time yet!)

- Charles Dickens - the LA Times

- Dickens: A Brief Biography -

- Five Myths About Charles Dickens - the Washington Post

- Charles Dickens Still Resonates - Christian Science Monitor

- World Celebrates 200th Anniversary of Dickens's Birth - BBC News

-- Post by Ms. B

Friday, February 3, 2012

So Our Children Can Soar

Rosa Parks's courageous action that December evening wasn't the first of its kind.

The story is a famous one. On December 1, 1955, Parks was riding a bus in Montgomery, Alabama, on her way home from her job as a seamstress. As the bus began to fill, Parks and three other African American passengers were ordered by bus driver James F. Blake to surrender their seats to white passengers. The other three African American passengers eventually got up. Making an instantaneous decision that she will no longer tolerate the discrimination, Rosa Parks remained seated. (Later, Parks would explain that this was not her first encounter with Blake -- he once made her get off the bus and re-enter through the rear door instead.)

Parks was arrested that day for her refusal to vacate her seat for a white man (a crime at the time under the "Jim Crow" segregation laws). But as the story of her courage spread, others were inspired to follow her example. A group of civil rights activities called the Montgomery Improvement Association organized the Montgomery Bus Boycott. (The leader of the boycott? A young Baptist minister, new to the area, by the name of Martin Luther King, Jr.) Passengers stayed off the buses in droves, choosing to walk, carpool, or bike-ride instead -- and with African Americans comprising nearly 75 percent of the riders in the Montgomery area, the bus company feels the effects. The number of buses in the city was cut, while fare prices were raised. And after 381 days, the boycott was ended -- when the Supreme Court ruled Montgomery's segregation laws to be unconstitutional.

Although best remembered for this act of courage, this was by no means Parks's only contribution to the civil rights movement -- or even her first. Rosa and her husband, Raymond Parks, were active members of their local NAACP chapter for many years before the incident in Montgomery. Later in life, Parks would go on to co-found the Rosa and Raymond Parks Institute for Self Development (an organization which aims to target the youth who might be overlooked by other program opportunities, motivating and directing them to reach their full potential). She'd receive the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 1996 from President Bill Clinton for her lifetime of work, and was awarded a Congressional Gold Medal in 1999.

Parks's 99th birthday would have been this February 4th (she passed away in 2005). But her myriad accomplishments -- best remembered in that iconic act of courage in 1955 -- ensures that her legacy lives on. She was and always will be rightly recognized as the "mother of the modern day civil rights movement."

For more on Rosa Parks:

- Rosa Parks Biography - Academy of Achievement

- Biography of Rosa Louise Parks - from the Rosa and Raymond Parks Institute for Self Development

- Rosa Parks Bus - The Story Behind the Bus

- Rosa Parks Refuses to Give Up Her Seat - How Rosa Parks Fought for Civil Rights (from Scholastic for younger readers)

From our Library's Collection:

- Stride Toward Freedom: The Montgomery Story - by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

- Rosa Parks: a Life - by Douglas Brinkley.

- Our Children Can Soar: A Celebration of Rosa, Barack, and the Pioneers of Change - by Michelle Cook.

-- Post by Ms. B