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05/28/2020 - 4:35pm

Few would argue that a gorgeous garden can do wonders for the spirit. A leisurely stroll to explore the magnificence of spring blossoms is a treat for the senses. While we cannot have the full sensory experience right now, we can bring nature into our homes via the internet. Many botanical gardens have created video tours of their greenhouses, flowers, and trees, allowing virtual visitors to enjoy the beauty of nature from...

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05/28/2020 - 2:56pm


Anne Enright Actress
Emma Straub All adults here
Ovidia Yu Aunty lee's delights
Susan Howatch Cashelmara
Thornton Wilder...

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05/28/2020 - 10:09am

Dear Friends:

All of us at Mechanics’ Institute send our heartfelt gratitude and best wishes to you - our members and greater family. Since the building closures and other ramifications of coronavirus 2019 (COVID-19), you’ve been on our minds, and we care deeply about how this health crisis may be affecting you and your loved ones. We hope you all are staying safe and healthy.

A venerabl...

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05/27/2020 - 3:19pm

In 2020, we tend to remember marine biologist Rachel Carson, born this day in 1907, for her highly influential 1962 bestseller, Silent Spring. A painstakingly researched exposé of the chemical industry, the “poison book,” as Carson called it, focused public attention on the ecological consequences of pesticide misuse for the very first time.


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05/26/2020 - 2:16pm

It has been a long ten weeks since we were ordered to shelter at home and the library was closed.  However, MI staff have spent some of their non-work hours (yes, we have all continued to do library work from home) reading books, watching DVDs and TV, and listening to audiobooks.  Below are some of the staff’s favorites since mid-March:

Celeste, library manager:

Here's w...

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05/22/2020 - 4:57pm

Since its inception just after the Civil War, Americans have observed Memorial Day in a variety of ways: with commemorations and cemetery visits, veterans’ parades and backyard barbecues, flags flown from front porches and red poppies sported in lapels—and, since the Monday Holiday Act of 1971, by staying home from work. But one way we have never marked this bittersweet day of remembrance is digitally—until now. To help yo...

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05/22/2020 - 3:33pm

Matthew Kennedy, host and curator of the CinemaLit film series at MI, grew up watching old movies with his mom and performing in musicals at his high school in Redding. He went on to dance professionally and teach anthropology and film history at City College of San Francisco for 23 years. The recipient of a Fulbright research fellowship and a San Francisco Cable Car Media/Journalism Award for film criticism, he has publishe...

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05/21/2020 - 6:03pm

The Library holds hundreds of titles in eBook format, including an abundance of history selections. In previous weeks, we’ve offered a glimpse of 20th-century American history offerings focusing on San Francisco and California, the U.S., and nationally noteworthy figures. Below, our final sample list in this series suggests the range of eBooks available on additional 20th-century U.S. history topics.


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05/20/2020 - 2:19pm

Besides its extensive collection of chess literature, Mechanics’ Institute has a large collection of records documenting its chess club activities, including tournament records, photographs, and the Chess Room Visitors Register dating back to 1913, which includes signatures of World Champions from Alexander Alekhine to Boris Spassky.

The Chess Room Visitors Register has been digitized and stored on the...

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05/19/2020 - 9:51am

In the days leading up to Memorial Day weekend, it is fitting to recognize health-care workers and the war on coronavirus. These medical “soldiers” who are staffing the hospitals and caring for the sick while risking their lives on a daily basis deserve our utmost gratitude. For many of us, it would be impossible to walk in their shoes.

It’s difficult to imagine working in a medical capacity during ordina...

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