Leap Year is February 29Of all the months of the year to add a day to, why did they pick February? I would have voted for May or June or maybe September, but February? Someone needs to pay for this….

In the meantime, here are some fun Leap Year Day facts:

1. People who are born on February 29 are sometimes called Leaplings. They celebrate their birthday on either February 28 or March 1 (there’s no hard and fast rule on that) on non-leap day years.

2. An extra day is added every four years to balance the calendar. Contrary to what you learned in school, a year is not 365 days long; it is 365.24219 days long. The Julian calendar (we’re using the Gregorian calendar now) did not adjust for this difference and the calendar got out of sync with the seasons. Now an extra day is added (again, why February?!) every four years except for century years that are not exactly divisible by 400 (got that?)

3. In some cultures Leap Year Day is the day that women may propose marriage to a man, or it is the day that women can ask a man on a date. In America, it is sometimes the occasion to hold a Sadie Hawkins dance, named for a character in the Lil’ Abner comic strip who was looking for a husband.

4. It’s called a “leap year” because the extra day means that a calendar date (such as your birthday) which falls on consecutive days of the weeks during non-leap years, will skip a weekday this year thus “leaping” over a day. For instance, if your birthday fell on a Monday last year, this year it will fall on a Wednesday rather than a Tuesday (clear as mud, right?)

You can find more fun calendar facts like this for every day of the week in Chase’s Calendar of Events. Ask for it at the Reference desk.

The Davenport Public Library is happy to announce the creation of our own weekly-ish podcast. The intent of the program is to focus on the Quad-Cities community and library issues in general.

Some of our podcasts will present the highlights of interviews conducted with local area veterans as part of the World War II/Korean War oral history project conducted . Our very first podcast looks at the experiences of area veteran Robert Rubley as a minesweeper (15:01).

Please subscribe to this free show in the Itunes music store so you’ll get a piping hot MP3 every time a new episode comes out. Or, just stream them off this blog by hitting “Play” below.

Both locations of the Davenport Public Library (Main St and Fairmount) will be closed today, Wednesday February 27 for a Staff In-Service. We’ll be busy honing our skills and learning how to create the best possible library for you. Plus, we get to wear jeans, so we’re pretty excited! We’ll be open again our regular hours on Thursday (9:30am-5:30pm at Fairmount, 12pm-8pm at Main)

The Garden PrimerSpring is coming. Really, it is. And despite evidence to the contrary, it’s coming soon. Now is the perfect time to get serious about planning your garden – those juicy tomatoes and glorious flowers don’t plant themselves you know!

The Garden Primer by Barbara Damrosch has long been one of my favorites – there is something about her writing style that makes you think “Sure, I can grow that. No problem.” Encouraging and practical, she covers everything – from digging the garden bed to how to grow a wide variety of fruits, vegetables, flowers and bulbs – without being overwhelming. Topics include composting, growing native plants, dealing with critters and essential garden tools. A new, revised edition has just been released with updated plant varieties and additional topics; recommended garden practices are now 100% organic.

And if you’re landless or just don’t have the time to garden but still love to eat well, the Davenport Farmer’s Markets open for the regular season on May 3! (Until then, winter markets will be held at the Freight House on March 1 and April 5)

PopcornSo, how did you do with your Oscar pool? A couple surprise winners – Tilda Swinton for Best Supporting Actress and Marion Cotillard for Best Actress among them – probably messed up more than one score sheet. A complete list of winners can be found on the official Oscar site. If you want to catch one of the movies highlighted last night (or one of hundreds of others), be sure to check the library’s collection; we’ll be purchasing or have purchased all of the winners (Atonement, Juno and There Will be Blood aren’t on DVD yet but we’ll order them as soon as release dates are announced) Place holds on your favorites and we’ll call you when they’re available.

Of course, half of the fun of Oscar night is watching the stars and seeing the beautiful gowns. Get a recap of the all the glamour (and missteps!) at Entertainment Weekly’s online site and on E! Television’s site. What do you think – who had the best dress and who needs to hire a stylist?

mental-floss.jpgA fairly recent addition to the Fairmount Library’s magazine collection, Mental Floss is

…an intelligent read, but not too intelligent. We’re the sort of intelligent that you hang out with for a while, enjoy our company, laugh a little, smile a lot and then we part ways. Great times. And you only realize how much you learned from us after a little while…

Recent articles:

  • “3 Extreme Ways to Go Green”
  • “Actually, It IS Rocket Science: NASA’s Brilliant, Far-Out History”
  • “Waropoly: How History’s Most Popular Board Game Helped Defend the Free World”
  • “10 Songs that Changed the World”

Remember, you can check out magazines from the library, including the current issue, for one week.

nevadabarrflashback.jpgDo you like to visit the National Parks? Do you like murder mysteries with a little romance thrown in? Check out the Nevada Barr mysteries. Her heroine is Anna Pigeon, a National Park Service Ranger who runs away from Manhattan after the death of her first husband. Each book deals with a murder in a National Park as Anna moves from post to post. Her descriptions of each park are great, making you want to visit. Flashback takes place in the Dry Tortugas National Park which is seventy miles off Key West. The story includes a current murder as well as the history and lore of the island, which is the site of historic Fort Jefferson. Anna’s sister Molly finds letters written by their great-great aunt who lived at the fort during the Civil War. With the letters providing the history of the fort and Anna’s description of her current posting at the park, you feel you are really there. After I read the book I had the opportunity to visit Key West and take a catamaran trip to Fort Jefferson; Nevada Barr’s vivid descriptions were right on the mark..

SnowflakeSure, it’s cold and miserable outside and it takes an extra 15 minutes to leave the house by the time you pull on hats and mittens and boots and coat and you’re beginning to think the color green is a figment of your imagination, but there are lots of reasons to love winter! Well ok, six reasons.

1. Indulge in favorite comfort foods – soups, sandwiches, casseroles. Check out the 641.5 section for cookbooks at the library.

2. Catch up on all those movies and television shows you’ve missed – the library has a huge selection and they’re free!

3. Plan your perfect garden – vegetable gardening books can be found in the 635 call number area and landscaping is in the 712s.

4. Embrace the season – try a new sport like snow shoeing or cross-country skiing. The library has sports how-to books in the 796 area that will help keep you upright.

5. Visit one of our city’s fabulous museums – the Figge, the Putnum and the River Music Experience are just the beginning.

6. Eagle watching. Cold weather brings the eagles to the open water of the Mississippi River, giving us a front row seat to one of nature’s most spectacular shows.

See? Not too shabby. Keep yourself occupied with something fun and the next thing you know – it’ll be spring!

What about you – what do you do to keep up your spirits through the last days of winter?

New England Soup Factory CookbookJust in case you hadn’t noticed, we’ve been having a dozy of a winter with rain, freezing rain, snow and sub-zero temperatures all making headlines. And, I hate to be the one to tell you this but warmer temperatures are still a few weeks away for the Midwest.

What better time for the warmth and comfort of homemade soup? The New England Soup Factory Cookbook by Marjorie Druker will provide you with dozens of ideas. Soups as varied as “Wild Mushroom and Barley” and “Curried Crab and Coconut” as well as familiar favorites such as “New England Clam Chowder” will inspire you. Luscious photos may tempt you to chew on the pages (please don’t) and the stories of the restaurant (a long-time favorite located in Boston) will keep you entertained.

It just might be enough to get you through those last few weeks of cold and snow.

The President’s Table by Barry LandauHappy President’s Day! Every third Monday in February has been set aside to observe the birth anniversaries of Abraham Lincoln (February 12) and George Washington (February 22), although it is now generally used to honor all former US presidents.

Ever wonder what goes on at those lavish Presidential State Dinners? The beautifully illustrated The President’s Table: Two Hundred Years of Dining and Diplomacy by Barry Landau gives us a unique picture of the world and work of the Presidents. Showing us history from a social rather than strictly factual viewpoint, Landau makes history fascinating and personal. Included are photographs of menus and invitations, descriptions of meals served, and details of trends in entertaining which reflect the birth, growth and dominance of the United States.