The Origin of Black Friday

black-fridayAs Thanksgiving and the inevitable Black Friday shopping day nears, I found myself wondering how this shopping frenzy all began. I scoured the internet for as many sources as I could find that would tell me not only when Americans started shopping in masses the day after Thanksgiving, but why. Most importantly, how did that day get the name Black Friday? The answers to these questions are not so cut and dry as one might think.

We begin our journey during the Civil War on October 3rd, 1863. President Abraham Lincoln announces that the United States will officially celebrate Thanksgiving as a national holiday, and that this holiday will be held on the 4th Thursday of November each year. The first Thanksgiving was thus celebrated on November 26, 1863. As Thanksgiving falls on November 26th this year, we will be celebrating 152 years of tradition to the day.

By the early 1920’s, several retailers sponsored parades to celebrate this national holiday. In 1924 Macy’s held their first Thanksgiving Day Parade. At the end of each parade came Santa Claus and officially marked the beginning of the holiday season. It became wide practice that retailers would not advertise Christmas sales until after the conclusion of Thanksgiving. With such a hard fast unwritten rule in place, the day after Thanksgiving quickly became the day to shop for the holidays and be the first to see all the specials.

As time went on, shopping on the day after Thanksgiving increased in popularity. Many businesses treated the day after Thanksgiving as a holiday in itself. Even school was not held on this day. However there were some groups of workers that were forced into working the day after Thanksgiving each year. In as early as 1951, business owners were using the term ‘Black Friday’ to refer to the number of employees to call in sick the day after Thanksgiving.

Philadelphia is more widely credited with boosting the popularity of the phrase during the 1960’s. Things were particularly troublesome the day after Thanksgiving as police were forced into working twelve hour shifts and crowds filled the streets. According to snopes.com, “the term ‘Black Friday’ came out of the old Philadelphia Police Department’s traffic squad. The cops used it to describe the worst traffic jams which annually occurred in Center City on the Friday after Thanksgiving.” During the 1980’s, retailers began using the phrase in association with the big shopping day to signify when their red (negative or loss) accounting book entries turned to black (positive or profits). By the 90’s retailers were using the term in advertising for holiday specials and sales taking place the day after Thanksgiving.

In the early 2000’s retailers began opening their doors earlier and earlier. In 2011, several major retailers announced they would open doors at midnight. The next year, Walmart opened their doors at 8:00 PM Thanksgiving Day. Today stores are opening as early as 5 PM on Thanksgiving Day. With this new trend, I can’t help but wonder how long we will continue to call it Black Friday?

Will you be out shopping on Black Friday or clicking on computer keys enjoying cyber deals from the comfort of your own home? Perhaps you will be boycotting the holiday by remaining firmly on your couch digesting those delicious holiday foods. If you are one of the hard working Americans that will be taking up a post directing traffic or ringing up items, I thank you and wish you a happy day after the day after Thanksgiving.

Step Aside, Pops: A Hark! A Vagrant Collection by Kate Beaton

step aside popsStep Aside, Pops: A Hark! A Vagrant Collection is Kate Beaton’s third published book of comics, but fourth overall. (Other ones by Beaton that the library owns are Hark! A Vagrant and The Princess and the Pony.) This new graphic novel is a collection of strips from her webcomic, Hark! A Vagrant. Webcomics are generally self-published online and are sometimes even published into books or as single strips in magazines or newspapers depending upon their popularity.

In Step Aside, Pops, Beaton takes a turn at digging into the lives of various literary, historical, and contemporary figures and characters. Think of this graphic novel as a collection of Beaton’s musings and ideas about different people throughout history. Her obvious love of all things literature, historical, and pop culture related flow through this graphic novel as she dissects the lives of Wonder Woman, what it was really like to be a peasant in a time of no medicine or deodorant, and how different famous Alexanders handled rough situations throughout time. Crack open this graphic novel and you’ll see how Beaton reimagines the lives of Achilles, the founding fathers when they find themselves in a shopping mall, and even how Cinderella would have played out if she had been a bodybuilder.

Girl Online: the first novel by Zoella by Zoe Sugg

girl onlineSitting at the reference desk affords me the best opportunities to figure out what the people who visit any of the three Davenport Public Libraries like to read. Reading selection catalogues is good for finding what reviewers think my patrons will like to read, but actually sitting at the desk and talking really gives me a solid idea about what our patrons want to see on the shelves.

My newest reference desk plug comes from a string of junior high and high school girls who, within the span of two to three days, all requested one book: Girl Online: the first novel by Zoella by Zoe Sugg. This book can be found in the young adult section and while that alone might throw some of you off and also send some of you wondering why there is a young adult review on this blog, let me tell you that while there are themes of first love and heartbreak and friendship within this book, there are also adult themes that I found resonated with me, even though I had to venture into teen land to find it. So let me tell you this: Instead of “Don’t judge a book by its cover,” maybe we should switch that handy motto to “Don’t judge a book by its call number”.

Girl Online: the first novel by Zoella by Zoe Sugg chronicles a short bit in the life of Penny, the girl behind the popular blog, GirlOnline, an anonymous blog that she runs online after she finds out that it is easier to share her real life and real feelings online than it is to face ridicule with everyone she knows in real life, or maybe a better way to word what she is doing online is to say that she is unsure whether or not others are feeling the same way as she is, so she posts her feelings and interactions only to be surprised that there are other people out there who feel the same way as she does. Penny, who is suffering from panic attacks after going through an accident with her parents, is supported through her online escapades and real life encounters by her best friend, Elliott, a gay boy struggling to get his parents to understand his homosexuality who lives right next to Penny and is able to knock on her wall with a secret code to let her know that he wants to come over and visit.

Well, Penny’s parents just happen to own a wedding planning business and, more specifically, a wedding dress store where they specialize in designing somewhat off-the-wall and different weddings. As the plot rolls on, Penny and her parents, Elliott included, are invited to New York to help plan a Downton Abbey themed wedding just around Christmas time. Could anything be more perfect?! Of course because this is a young adult novel!!! Once there, Penny meets Noah, a gorgeous, guitar-strumming, tall eighteen-year-old boy who just happens to be the grandson of the chef for the wedding. This. Is. Awesome. They travel around New York together and have picnics together on a roof top and just when you think they are going to be parted, Penny’s mom gets asked to design another party, which means they get to stay together for a whole other week! Sweet!! Penny and Noah fall in deep like, but alarm bells kept going off in my head because it seemed like Noah had a secret too. Can’t spoil everything for you. Read the book and let me know when your alarm bells start going off. Mine were right when they met. (And all the while, Penny is blogging about her encounters in New York, anonymously of course). Anyway, Penny comes home and THINGS BLOW UP! Not actual bombs and stuff, but metaphorical “her life is over because she’s a teenager and no one else will love her”. Sugg’s writing was so good in this part, I actually could not put the book down and read it all the way through breakfast.

The reason why I am blogging about this book is because it shows people just what happens when you put your life all over social media. The consequences, the interactions between your real and online life, and the inevitable collision between the two are what really makes Sugg’s writing shine in this novel. Zoe Sugg, also known as Zoella, is a vlogger, someone who, like bloggers, posts videos online to diary and document what is happening in their lives. Sugg does this through her YouTube channel. If you visit the about page on her YouTube channel, there are multiple links to her other various social media platforms. She is a social media QUEEN, winning awards and such for her presence online!

Internet Safety

In the last year, there have been a number of internet hacking scandals that have the whole country wondering just how secure the information is that they are putting onto the internet. The most recent attack being on Avid Life Media, the parent company of Ashley Madison, Established Men, and Cougar Life. The group responsible, the Impact Team, brought to light the fact that the company was charging Ashley Madison users a $19 fee to have all of their data completely scrubbed from their servers. The Impact Team said that this was not the case, that the users’ information was still accessible. The hackers are demanding that those sites be shut down or the personal and financial information of their clients will be released onto the web (As of now, they have begun releasing the information of some). Many other websites, companies, and organizations have been hacked, from celebrities’ accounts to other retail companies. Each article published releases information to consumers about how to beef up their online security and to protect their identity, as the information that they post online can be used to track down to them in real life, as illustrated by the previous hacks.

Here I’ve gathered my some tips about how to make your online identity even more secure. (There have also been a number of security breaches of financial information of people who do not shop online, like Target, Neiman Marcus, and Michaels to name a few, but this blog is going to focus primarily on internet safety.)


fingerprint face

In order to keep your identity safe and to use the internet safely, you need to utilize as many layers of protection as possible. Just being aware of what could possibly happen and taking the necessary steps to help prevent that will not necessarily guarantee that nothing bad will ever happen to you online, but will certainly make it harder for someone to gain access to your information.

Here are some handy tips to help you use the internet safely:

1. Be careful what you post online. Everything you post online will be there forever. Even if you delete your account, certain websites, like the Wayback Machine, save websites over time and allow users to pull up a web address and pick any date in history to see what that page looked like on that specific date. Most social media sites allow you to make your page private, so look for the safety or security settings within that account. Share only what you are comfortable with everyone seeing and don’t accept friend requests from strangers.

2. Create a secure password. Change your passwords often and make them at least 8 characters long with a combination of letters, numbers, and symbols. Avoid easy to guess words and personal information.

3. Think before you download an app. Most apps request access to your personal information, ranging from your pictures, contact lists, phone book, and friends list.  On certain mobile devices, you can deny the app access to your personal or financial information and still be able to download the app.

4. Make sure you have a secure location and you leave the internet secure. This involves making sure that you have an https:// connection at the top of the browser and locking for a padlock up at the top, meaning that the site you are on is encrypted. If you are accessing a website that requires you to log-in, make sure that you are logging out before you close out of the browser or someone else can easily access your account. Never give out your credit card information without checking to make sure that the site is secure. You can buy a disposable credit card through your credit card company or through a retailer that you can load with a preset amount of money, so that if you are hacked, your personal information is safe and the only thing that is compromised is what is on that card. Use all the security options present on your device. Many computers, tablets, and phones offer lock screens, passwords, and sometimes even fingerprint lock options.

5. Be on the alert for scammers. Don’t give out your personal information online to somebody that you do not know! Scammers will try to steal your information, so don’t give it out over text messages, phone, mail, or the Internet, unless you are 100% sure you know who you are dealing with. If you are even the slightest bit unsure, close out of your email, open a new browser, and type in the company’s web address to contact them through their customer service.

6. Install security software. Run the virus checks and make sure that everything stays updated. Most businesses recommend virus, malware, and firewall protection. Some examples of these are AVG, McAfee security scan, Microsoft security options, and ZoneAlarm free firewall. There are other options available online. Do your research to figure out which one is the best for your needs. Some new computers come with free antivirus software as well.

7. Dispose of your personal information. If you are planning on recycling your old computer, make sure to wipe the hard drive; just erasing it will not do the job. Your hard drive stores all of your personal information and a not wiped one is a scammer’s dream to find! Make sure to recycle your electronics and shred any personal documents as well.


Check out some resources the library has available to help inform you on internet safety, online security, identity theft, and identity protection, as well as some real-life stories. Click on the covers for more information and to put these materials on hold!

internet safelyis it safeart of intrusionprotecting your internet identity50 waysstopping identity theft

The Dreaded Summer Slide

Since we’re deep in the midst of summer vacation and hopefully none of the kids that you know are stuck in summer school, everyone is free to explore and run and, most importantly, not have to worry about getting up early and going to school. This break brings a conundrum to light as both parents and teachers begin to worry about the summer slide, also known as the time when kids start forgetting the important things they learned in the school year while they are on summer vacation.

How do we, as educators, parents, librarians, babysitters, etc, combat this? By making learning fun. Sure, we could bring home big tomes from the library and tell our kids that they have to read a certain set of pages before they can go outside and play, but the resulting struggle will instead leave everyone frustrated and angry and wishing they had something to bash their heads against. Let me help you avoid the agony and present you with some exciting and less injurious options. Let’s focus today’s blog post on history and alternative methods of learning, shall we? Read on!


hip-hop us historyI don’t know about you, but my difficulties in remembering things in school, and especially over summer vacation, always revolved around history. Blurgh. Textbooks made me fall asleep, I was always mixing dates around in my head, and THEN I discovered Hip-Hop U.S. History: The New and Innovative Approach to Learning American History. (I had found other similar works, not by the same authors, ranging from mixing poetry and music to math and music, but this, by far, was my favorite.) Blake Harrison and Alex Rappaport created Flocabulary, a website for teachers and school districts to find ways to teach anything ranging from social studies to languages arts to math and science to kids of all ages, but I particularly enjoyed this book. Number 1 reason: It has a CD of all the songs inside of it AND has an actual list of the lyrics! Each song has its own dedicated chapter with the lyrics broken down and explained in better detail. Be still your heart if you think this book is still boring. It’s not! Pictures are also added with quotations from that time period, perspectives pieces, and little biographies of the important people. You learn without actually realizing you’re learning! (And you’ll also have a few catchy songs stuck in your head to help you remember those pesky dates and important historical details!)


crashcourse

Let me share with you my most delightful learning find. This is the Crash Course YouTube channel, put together by none other that John Green, his lovely brother Hank, and two of their friends, Phil Plait and Craig Benzine. If these names sound familiar, yay! If not, let me introduce you to John Green, a writer of young adult books with works such as The Fault in Our Stars, An Abundance of Katherines, Paper Towns, Looking for Alaska, and Will Grayson, Will Grayson. He and his brother, Hank Green, also have another YouTube channel called Vlogbrothers, where they send videos to each other, but these are far less about learning, so let’s focus on Crash Course. Here you will find videos on literature, ecology, biology, world history, US history, chemistry, and psychology, and many more. I got hooked on the literature ones, where John discusses anything from authors to books to poetry and adds his own unique spin. Each video is animated and punch filled with learning and facts and humor and keeps you on the edge of your seat wanting to learn more. I highly recommend you check them out for yourself and let me know what you think in the comments below.


This blog post gives you a glimmer of some of the things I’ve found that have helped with my own learning. I’ve got more ideas rolling around in my head, so keep checking back. If you’re looking for different ways to engage the kids you know or are maybe curious for yourself about new ways to learn old things, contact us at the library and we’d be glad to help you!

Celebrate Notable African-American Women!

As African-American History Month draws to a close and Women’s History Month begins, celebrate both by discovering these turn-of-the-twentieth-century African-American women activists on your library’s shelves:

 

IdaBWellsJournalist Ida B. Wells-Barnett (1862-1931) first spoke out against the lynching of blacks in the South from the pages of her own Memphis, Tennessee newspaper. This act began her fierce campaign to end the injustice through her lectures and writings. On Lynchings collects three of her influential publications on the subject.

 

 

 

TerrellIn her 1940 autobiography, A Colored Woman in a White World, Mary Church Terrell (1863-1954) describes her career as a speaker dedicated to advancing the causes of civil rights and women’s suffrage.

 

 

 

 

 

Callie houseHistorian Mary Frances Berry rescues Callie House (1861–1928) from obscurity in My Face is Black is True: Callie House and the Struggle for Ex-Slave Reparations. Founder of the National Ex-Slave Mutual Relief, Bounty and Pension Association, House began a grass-roots movement calling for Congress to compensate former slaves for the labor they performed during centuries of captivity.

 

 

 

 

biog in context graphic

Explore the lives of other remarkable African-American women with Biography in Context. This online database conveniently gathers information from reference works, academic publications, newspapers, magazines, radio broadcasts, websites, and other sources to create”media-rich” profiles of historical figures, writers, artists, celebrities, and other prominent individuals.

From blog to book

Lifestyle blogs are the ‘thing’ right now.  Young House Love, Perfectly Imperfect, Smitten Kitchen, and Pioneer Woman are all written by bloggers who are getting famous simply for letting readers into their homes  (I like to think of them as still life reality stars.)  The best bloggers combine a sharp wit, unique voice, beautiful photos, a glimpse at the personal, and easy to follow how-tos.  Many of these bloggers have published books that you can check out from the Davenport Public Library, so stop by and check them out!

Young House Love by Sherry & John Petersik
Apartment Therapy Presents by Maxwell Gillingham-Ryan
The Sprouted Kitchen by Sara Forte
Joy the Baker Cookbook by Joy Wilson
The Perfectly Imperfect Home by Deborah Needleman
The Pioneer Woman Cooks by Ree Drummond
The Smitten Kitchen Cookbook by Deb Perelman
Design Sponge at Home by Grace Bonney

Where oh where has Gone Girl gone?

If you’re looking to start reading Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn today, you might be out of luck (make sure you place a hold!), but that doesn’t mean you have to leave the library empty handed.  Feel free to visit us at the Reference/Information desk, and we can help you find books that read similarly to Gone Girl (or any title that you’re looking to read.)  If you’re looking from home, the catalog can provide read-alike suggestions.  You just need to search for the book, and select “details” to the right of the title and book cover.  Once you are looking at the details about the book, you can scroll down to “Suggestions and More” where you will find similar titles and similar authors.  Here are some suggestions for Gone Girl read-alikes.

silentwife beforeigotosleep defendingjacob thedinnerdieforyou

 

 

 

 

The Silent Wife by A.S.A Harrison
How is it like Gone Girl?  Both books are suspenseful, the story alternates between the husband’s and wife’s voices, and highlight marital woes.

Before I Go to Sleep by S.J. Watson
How is it like Gone Girl?  Both books are suspenseful, have complicated plots, and feature discrepancies between what is being said and what is actually happening.

Defending Jacob by William Landay
How is it like Gone Girl?  Both books focus on crime and family, with nimble and smart writing.

The Dinner by Herman Koch
How is it like Gone Girl?  Both books are suspenseful, darkly funny, and feature unlikable and unreliable narrators.

Die for You by Lisa Unger
How is it like Gone Girl?  Both books are psychological suspense novels that evolve from different perspectives.

Rookie: Yearbook One edited by Tavi Gevinson

rookie1.cover_webGet this book for any teen girl you know. Tavi’s online zine, Rookie Mag, has been collecting accolades since the fifteen-year-old blogger started it from her Midwestern bedroom. Tavi has been a respected style blogger since 2008, when she began her fashion blog Style Rookie at the tender age of eleven. Since then, she’s been invited to attend and review fashion shows all over the world, but it’s not just clothes anymore; this clever writer and all-around gifted young woman has created a magazine where teens can go for conversations with other teens about school, friends, music and movies, feminism, body image and self esteem, fashion, sex, and all the minutiae of teenage life that seems so monumental to those who are living it. She writes about the problems and the questions that real, modern teens have. She’s frank and funny and I wish I’d been even one-tenth as smart and confident as she is when I was a teenager. What I’m getting at is: here is a great, realistic role model. And a great book!

Rookie: Yearbook One is an ink & paper retrospective of the online magazine’s first year. It contains a lot of writing by Tavi, but it’s been touched by dozens of others; Miranda July, Lena Dunham, Aubrey Plaza, Joss Whedon, Patton Oswalt, and many others make appearances – either in pieces they’ve written for the magazine or as the subject of one of Tavi’s excellent interviews (I love how she is just as comfortable grilling Whedon about his modern-day interpretation of the sexual politics of “Much Ado About Nothing” as she is sharing a laugh with Plaza about how much they love the film “Reality Bites”). These are articles that matter, ideas that resonate, and interviews that are exciting and in-depth; it’s also lighthearted (you’ll love the section on how to cry without anyone catching you), and the graphic design of the book is phenomenal. If you have any taste for collage (and a little bit of the ridiculous) your eyes will pop at the juxtaposition of textures, photos, and hand-drawn illustrations. It’s just amazing, and I wish so much that I’d had it when I was a teenager!