PlantFinder

I want to tell you about an app that could be useful to you as you spend more time outdoors. This free app is called PlantFinder and I hope you enjoy it as much as I have. I have it downloaded on my Android phone from the Google Play store but according to a search I did today on the Apple app store, it is also available for Apple products. Since it is free it does have ads, but you can pay a small subscription fee to avoid the ads if you prefer. The ads pop up after you take a photo of a plant and before it loads the results that display the plant’s name and identifying information. I try to remember to turn my phone’s volume down, otherwise it can be quite intrusive during a quiet nature walk.

I have used PlantFinder to successfully identify plants I see while walking trails. Sadly, many of them were invasive species. Examples from a recent outing include honeysuckle (Lonicera periclymenum), wild blue phlox (Phlox divaricata), and creeping Charlie (Glechoma hederacea). The results aren’t always as specific as I would like. For instance, I was hoping to refresh my memory on what variety of apple tree is growing in my back yard, but PlantFinder could only tell me that it is an “Apple tree,” rather than confirm if it was Honeycrisp or Zestar. I suppose that is only fair, as the fruit hasn’t even appeared yet. I have a Japanese dappled willow (Salix integra) in my front yard and when I snapped a photo of it to test it out on the app, it came back with the result, “Grey willow,” (Salix atrocinerea). Those are not exactly the same things, but it at least got the genus right. Sometimes, though rarely, PlantFinder can get it wrong. For instance, it thought my rose bush was a buckthorn. Perhaps when it blooms I’ll take another photo and get better results. Overall, however, I have been very pleased. It keeps a record of the photos, dates, plant names and details of what you have previously looked up. Access it by tapping “My Plants.” It also offers a “Plant Care” section that will help you keep track of watering & fertilizing frequency for the plants you cultivate at home.

In my opinion, the real test of usefulness is if it it can successfully identify poison ivy, which it did when I sought out and (fortunately? unfortunately?) found a rarer variety called Western Poison Ivy. I wondered if it would show a bright word of caution on the results page for plants like poison ivy that can cause rashes or allergic reactions, but it did not. So although it can successfully identify poison ivy, you still have to be reasonably savvy when you’re out there and take care not to touch any of the wild plants as you are taking photographs.

I would love to hear your comments if you decide to try this app after reading this, or if you are already familiar with it share your experiences. Have fun out there and stay safe!

Give Your Doctor A Check-Up

Turn the tables on your doctors and give them an examination!  We are pleased to announce that within our ReferenceUSA product you’ll now find a new sub-database called U. S. Healthcare, which allows you to obtain information about your doctor’s vital statistics.

Search by the doctor’s name to learn primary specialty, medical school, year of graduation, hospital affiliations, and whether they are Board Certified.  Or if you are searching for a new doctor, you may enter geographic criteria and choose from a list of primary specialties.

This product provides information on over 675,00 doctors and 180,000 dentists, potentially providing their group’s name, office manager’s name, and what health plans they accept.

Take the pulse of your medical providers today.

Ask a Librarian

Do you miss going into the library and talking to the librarians? Well, we miss talking to you! Join Stephanie, one of our Information Services Librarians, every Thursday at 2pm on Facebook where you can ask a librarian anything. Need book recommendations? Curious what a librarian does? Want to learn how to use different resources? Ask her anything!

If you have questions for your librarians, you can also call us at 563-326-7832, email us, or message us on social media. We are answering our phones Monday through Friday from 9 to 5pm. Leave a voicemail, send an email, and we’ll get back to you as soon as we can!

Let Us Entertain You

Have some spare time on your hands?  Looking for new diversions?  Look no further than your local library!

We are pleased to announce the addition of two RBdigital entertainment products to our fleet of online resources, IndieFlix and Qello Concerts.

IndieFlix provides access to over 7,000 high-quality shorts, features, documentaries, classic TV shows and Web series from 85 countries.  It includes independent films from major festivals all over the world, including Sundance, Cannes, Tribeca, and more.

Qello Concerts allows music lovers to view full-length performances, concert films, and music documentaries.  For example, shows by Queen, Pink Floyd, Paul McCartney, Aerosmith, Lady Gaga, Metallica, Eric Clapton, Nirvana, The Rolling Stones, Beyoncé, Bob Marley, Mumford & Sons, etc.

To get started with either product you first create an RBdigital account.  Enter your Davenport library card number, then fill out a form to provide your library, name, email, and create a password.  It’s that simple.

Your account provides you a 7-day license to stream unlimited content.  The next week, login again to check out another license.

Fair warning:  These products are addicting!

April Fool’s Day During the COVID-19 Crisis

Hello!

In the past I’ve written an April Fool’s post on the first of April, something silly and fun (the library rearranging  books by color, offering passes to skip-the-line for the I-74 bridge, adding a third floor to the Main library, etc) This year though, it feels like we’re already in the midst of a cosmic (and not at all funny) April Fool’s prank. So, instead of trying to fool you, I’m going to list some of the hopeful, heartwarming, fun things I’ve run across while we all work to get through this pandemic alone but together. Enjoy!

Jennifer Ehle, who starred in probably the best television adaptation of any Jane Austen novel (Pride and Prejudice with Colin Firth) is reading Pride and Prejudice from home, one chapter a day on YouTube.

Missing sports? British sportscaster Andrew Cotter calls a race between his dogs eating supper – who will be victorious? Mabel or Olive? Extremely hilarious.

Sad to be missing out on lots of spring blooms? (I certainly am) Olbrich Botanical Gardens in Madison, Wisconsin is one of the premier public gardens in the United States (And it’s free!) Each day a staff member features the latest spring blooms on the garden’s Instagram stories (@olbrichgardens) Other public gardens with seasonal pictures include Chanticleer Gardens in Pennsylvania (@chanticleergarden) and the world famous Keukenhof Gardens near Amsterdam (@visitkeukenhof). It’s almost – not quite, but almost – as good as being there.

Yo-Yo Ma is sharing #songsofcomfort on Instagram and Twitter. He started out by playing Dvorak’s “Going Home”, a gorgeous piece of music beautifully suited to the cello. Others, both professional and amateur have also been contributing – check out the hashtag for lots of great music.

And don’t forget – the Davenport Library offers a huge range of online entertainment from ebooks and eaudiobooks (Libby), to British television favorites (Acorn) to digital magazines (rbDigital). And it’s all free! Check out our home page for links and more information.

What about you – what have you found to keep yourself entertained and inspired?

Cannabis : The Illegalization of Weed in America by Box Brown

I recently saw a local news story in which Illinois state senator Toi Hutchinson said that the legalization of cannabis in her state came as a result of the differing sides “hashing it out” to come to agreement. I don’t know whether or not the pun was intended, but as a librarian interested in languages, I appreciated it.

Soon after, I spotted the graphic novel Cannabis: The Illegalization of Weed in America on display at the library and figured it would be a good way to better educate myself on the topic right at our doorstep. I was not disappointed. This graphic novel has four pages of sources cited at the end! It is equal parts interesting and informative.

It starts with what is known about early humans’ use of cannabis sativa from biology and mythology. It outlines how the plant has been cultivated for its various uses across the world (think: textiles & oils too). It traces the etymology of the many different words we use for it: hash, Mary Jane, reefer, weed, to name just a few. I learned that the word marijuana is believed to be derived from slang usage in Mexico near Catholic missionaries, where the priests condemned its use. Locals would tell the priest they were just spending time with Maria Juana!

The graphic novel delves into the “Reefer Madness” era during which commissioner of the U.S. Treasury Department’s Federal Bureau of Narcotics Harry Anslinger worked to criminalize its use by making false, racist claims about its use and users. It discusses how cannabis has been regulated through legislation and how its reputation has been manipulated. The graphic novel concludes with present-day uses and a bibliography listing sixty sources readers can seek out for further learning on the subject.

I highly recommend this book and I look forward to reading Box Brown’s other titles, including Is This Guy for Real? The Unbelievable Andy Kaufman and Tetris: The Games People Play.

You can also learn more on this topic from Illinois Policy, an independent organization that seeks to educate and engage Illinois citizens.

 

The Minimalist Home : a Room-by-Room Guide to a Decluttered, Refocused Life by Joshua Becker

With the New Year, it seems like everyone is making a resolution.  One popular resolution is to get rid of the many possessions that you no longer use, which many believe will lead you to fill your home and life with items that are meaningful to you.  Popular blogger Joshua Becker’s new book, The Minimalist Home, is a guide to only filling your home with things that create a simpler life.  The author guides you from room to room within your home, helping you to decide what to keep and what to discard.  He addresses not only the easy stuff – the chair that is being used as storage in the corner – but even the most difficult things to part with   – the items that have sentimental value.  He speaks as to why so many Americans have so much stuff and how accumulating items begins in the first place.  His advice is practical, straightforward and helps with the tough questions that are bound to arise when discarding possessions.

One of the beneficial parts of the book is how the author came to be a minimalist by sharing his story.    Before Becker discovered minimalism, he was very similar to many others before their journey of owning less.   A casual conversation with a neighbor led him to question why he owned so many items when it was distracting him from what really mattered in life.  In his case, this was spending quality time with his wife and son and enjoying their time together.  After converting to minimalism, he boasts that he and his family were able to be more generous with their time and live a simpler life, surrounding themselves with things they use and truly enjoy.

The author’s main takeaway is that the reader can create their own journey of minimalism, making it unique to them.  Becker’s book supplies the framework to help readers make the journey.   Even if you do not decide to get rid of nearly everything you own, The Minimalist Home will make you think more about how you view the objects you possess in your home.

Going Zero Waste!

In her blog post about a recent program at Davenport Public Library called “Going Zero Waste”, Josie Mumm describes how initially surprised she was that the library, of all places, would host a program that focused on zero-waste living. Upon reflection, however, it is evident that libraries are perfectly positioned not only to discuss matters of zero waste living, but to be leaders in developing innovative programs and services in general because libraries are community sources for the public good at their core.

As one may conclude, Mumm explains that libraries themselves are already beacons for zero-waste lifestyles in that they are essentially sharing economies that value providing centralized access to information, services, and community resources without the push to incur expense.  Rather than buying new print or digital books, audiobooks, magazines, music,  technologies, or community experiences, libraries provide free, unfettered access to these things so that you may try them out before committing to the cost and space allocation that these purchases would require.

In short, libraries embody and advocate zero-waste lifestyles and minimalism at their core.

On Saturday, October 20th, Courtney Walters, local educator, led a program at the Main St. location called “Zero Waste For Beginners” that offered practical tips for getting started on a zero-waste lifestyle.  In a brief promotional video, Courtney discussed her program and described some basic tenants of zero-waste living. Perhaps one of the most important takeaways is that although it may be virtually impossible not to create any waste, we can start small, reduce our carbon footprints, simplify our lives, and ultimately free up time so that we can focus more on what matters and less on the frivolity of managing our consumer goods and possessions. Perfect is the enemy of good, in this case.  For example, if you are a daily coffee drinker and find yourself purchasing specialty coffee drinks, you can bring a re-usable mug to your favorite coffee shop for a discount that quickly adds up, not to mention you will reduce your waste substantially. After you establish that new habit, you might then branch out into other avenues of reducing your waste output by bringing your own produce bag to the grocery store or buying in bulk as much as possible.

Check out the full Marked As Done blog-post to read an interview with Courtney Walters and learn more about zero-waste living and other ways to reduce your own consumption!

Editor’s Note: Intrigued? Then don’t miss “That’s a Wrap: Eco-Friendly Wrapping” at Fairmount on Tuesday, November 27 beginning at 5:30pm. Erin will show you how to create beautiful gift wrap using cloth, a great way to cut holiday waste. Check the Library Events calendar for more information.

 

 

Keep track of those books! Try Goodreads

The holiday season is here and you are probably going to be interacting with friends and family at gatherings. A popular topic of conversation is books. Well, books always becomes the topic after I mention that I am a librarian. “Oh, it must be nice to sit around and read all day”. Sadly, we don’t get to sit and read all day either. But I do like talking about books! However, I cannot always remember the author or title of a book that I read that I want to recommend to someone.

So what do I do?

Thankfully, there is an app for that. I like to use Goodreads. And if you don’t like squinting at your phone, check out their website. Goodreads is my favorite app/website. It helps me keep track of what I have read. If I find a new author I like, I can search Goodreads for all of their works. Best of all, while I am searching new titles, I can see what other Goodreads users ranked and reviewed a book. So if I see that a book has a low rating, I might put it in my “To-Read” list on the site instead. While you are comparing books at that holiday gathering, you can add those interesting sounding titles to your “To-Read” list on your phone so you don’t forget them later.

Goodreads is not just a site of lists of books and authors. It is social site that allows you to interact with other people. You can see what your friends have read or want to read. You can compare your lists with their lists, see how your rankings compare and read their reviews. There is a news feed that shows you what your friends just added to their list or what book they just finished. Goodreads now offers a personal reading challenge that keeps track of how many books you have read during the year. Also, Goodreads users vote on their favorite books at the end of the year.

Hopefully I have given you a reason to join Goodreads. It is a fun way to keep track of what you have read and interact with your friends. It is great tool for helping you find new books and authors to read as well. When you are at those family gatherings, it will be much easier to add that recommended book on your Goodreads app then to try to remember the book title (and forget it later).

 

 

Learn to Talk Like a Pirate by Sept 19 With the Help of Mango Languages

September 19 is International Talk Like a Pirate Day.  According to Chase’s Calendar of Events, it is “a day when people everywhere can swash their buckles and add a touch of larceny to their dialogue by talking like pirates: for example, ‘Arr, matey, it be a fine day.’  While it’s inherently a guy thing, women have been known to enjoy the day because they have to be addressed as ‘me beauty.’ Celebrated by millions on all seven continents.”

You can learn more about how two average guys started this holiday on June 6, 1995 on a racquetball court in a YMCA in Albany, Oregon here. It didn’t gain a lot of attention until humor columnist Dave Barry wrote about it in a 2002 article. The rest, as they say, is hist -arrrr-y.

Mango Languages, one of the language learning databases to which the Davenport Public Library subscribes, will be offering lessons on how to talk pirate through Sept 19. To access Mango languages, click here. Or, you can go to www.davenportlibrary.com, click on Research Tools, then Online Resources and scroll down until you get to Mango Languages. You’ll need to create a profile using your library card number. Once you’re in, find the search box (it has a magnifying glass icon next to it) and type “Pirate.” You’ll be taken to a page with options such as:

  • Call Someone Names
  • Express Surprise
  • Give Sailing Commands
  • Greet a Friend or Superior
  • Pay a Compliment
  • Invert the Simple Sentence Structure
  • Understand the Usage of Be
  • Use the 2nd Person Pronoun Ye
  • Use Me as a Possessive

Alas, have a fine day, mateys!