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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.

Thoug...

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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.

Clic...

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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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05/15/2020 - 5:01pm

Biographies of historical figures are always popular with readers. This week, we highlight biographies of notable 20th-century Americans in a sample list of history eBooks available to MI members. Click on any title below to learn more about it, or click here to browse the wealth of history selections accessible through the eBook app...

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05/14/2020 - 10:15am

He was a bigamist and he had one wife in California and another in Rhode Island. The odd thing is they knew about one another, but never divorced him. They were good Italians and their Catholic religion played a big part in their decision not to seek divorce.

During this time of sheltering in place, seeking out our ancestors and learning about who they were is a worthy use of time. Not only will you be in...

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05/13/2020 - 1:36pm

Good news for everyone who’d like to have home internet access but can’t afford it: several local internet providers are discounting their services during the coronavirus outbreak.

The internet can be a lifeline right now, a way for those of us sheltering in place to get important information about what’s going on, and to stay connected with family, friends, and the larger world. Internet access gives us...

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