The world at your fingertips

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Yesterday, April 21, the World Digital Library was officially launched. A joint project of the Library of Congress and UNESCO, the project is a massive effort to provide many primary source documents like historical maps, photographs, music, etc. from many regions of the world. Looking for a sketch of one of the captives on the slave ship, the Amistad? You'll find it here. Do you need an ancient map of Sweden? A fascinating, well documented journey, the World Digital Library is an invaluable resource both for the student and the constantly curious.

“Growing Up” Sibert Medal Award Winners

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The Sibert Medal is awarded anually to authors and illustrators of the most distinguished informational book of the year. The award has been given out since 2001 to some of the loveliest non-fiction titles for youth and teens! Many are chock full of pictures, illustrations and words, designed to create higher interest in informational topics. Here are a few stellar examples of past recipients:

The Wall: Growing Up Behind the Iron Curtain: Peter Sis’ story is told in pictures, drawings, and memories of growing up in Czechoslovakia during the Cold War, and battling everything from Communism to the banning of rock music. This beautiful and charming book is a lighter way to read about and/or introduce a heavy topic.

Hitler Youth: Growing up in Hitler’s Shadow, by Susan Campbell Bartoletti, chronicles the story of the generation of youth (over 7 million boys and girls) growing up devoted to Hitler and the Nazi movement. It also includes voices of youth who were opposed to the movement, as well as those of targeted Jewish youths. Quite a deep and interesting look at the youth that was so effected during Hitler's Germany.

Sidney Fine, who taught history at UM for 53 years, has died

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Beloved historian Sidney Fine, who taught at the University of Michigan for 53 years, died Tuesday at the age of 88. Professor Fine is thought to have held the longest active teaching career in UM history, teaching over 26,000 over the course of his career before he retired in 2001. Read more about Mr. Fine on wikipedia and his obituary in the Detroit Free Press.

Happy Birthday, Mrs. Betty Ford!

Next month former First Lady Betty Ford will turn 91, and to help us all anticipate that, her former assistant press secretary will appear at the Gerald R. Ford Presidential Library at the University of Michigan. Patti Matson will talk about “Betty Ford: Strength in a Package Marked Fragile” on March 31 (Tuesday), at 7:30 p.m. Mrs. Ford is the founder of the Betty Ford Center for substance abuse and addiction and a Congressional Gold Medal recipient. You can see wonderful images of her life in our AP Images database.

Essays About Lincoln - Statewide Writing Contest

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A statewide essay contest, sponsored by the Library of Michigan, celebrating Abraham Lincoln's 200th birthday, is now accepting entries until April 4th.

Themes are broken down into two grade categories and full details are available at http://www.milincoln.org.

Inspiration may come from reviewing his life; try Abraham Lincoln : a photo-illustrated biography or reading about his leadership in Abraham Lincoln's Extraordinary Era : the man and his times

Celebrate Women's History Month

March is Women's History Month. In honor of the tremendous achievements of women worldwide, Gale Publishing Group which offers numerous databases and other resources to libraries, has put together some great free resources. Based on the theme, "Get to Know the Women Who've Changed Our World," you can access activities, quizzes, biographies, a timeline and more at their special website. A great resource for teachers, activities by topic include history, geography music, science and literature. You can also download bookmarks, a calendar and screensaver. Biographies of famous women up to and including Hilary Clinton and Michelle Obama are available.

You can also check out the Library's rich collection of books and dvds on women's history including a new book, Ad Women by Juliann Sivulka on the history of women in advertising and how they influence consumer habits.

Learn About Dinosaurs This (and Every) Weekend!

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Head over to the University of Michigan Exhibit Museum of Natural History. The Exhibit Museum offers free docent-led tours of the dinosaur exhibits every Saturday and Sunday at 2 p.m. for the first 15 people to sign up. You can sign up at the host table in the Rotunda lobby. Sign up is first come, first served. The tours last approximately 30 minutes. As an added bonus, check out a Museum Adventure Pass and receive a 10% discount in the museum store!

Iraq National Museum Reopening

The Iraq National Museum is reopening this week, the Associated Press reports. Following the U.S.-led invasion in 2003, the museum suffered a chaotic fate chronicled in the book The Looting of the Iraq Museum, Baghdad : the lost legacy of ancient Mesopotamia. Mesopotamia, which largely corresponds to what is now Iraq, was where the world’s earliest civilization developed around the Tigris and Euphrates rivers. Artifacts from the Stone Age through the Babylonian, Assyrian and Islamic periods had been collected at the Iraq museum. But when it was ransacked six years ago, armed thieves stole thousands of artifacts, prompting archaeologists around the globe to join recovery efforts. Still, almost half the artifacts remain missing, including an estimated 50 items of strong historical significance.

Happy Birthday Art Spiegelman!

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"Art Spiegelman... to the comics world is a Michelangelo and a Medici both, an influential artist who is also an impresario and an enabler of others." (The New York Times Magazine). Born February 15, 1948, Art Spiegelman is best known for his Pulitzer Prize winning graphic novel Maus, based on his parents' survival of the Holocaust. If you have never read the Maus series, you should definitely add them to your "must read before I die" list. Spiegelman's hauntingly simple black and white drawings depict Jews as mice, Nazis as cats, Poles as pigs. If you think of graphic novels or comics as "fluff", Spiegelman's powerful work will change your mind.

Here at the AADL you can also find In the Shadow of No Towers, Spiegelman's account of life after the September 11th attacks (Spiegelman and his family bore witness to the attacks in their lower Manhattan neighborhood: his teenage daughter had started school directly below the towers days earlier, and they had lived in the area for years). We also have many other Spiegelman works like Breakdowns : Portrait of The Artist as a Young %@&*!, and the offbeat Little Lit : It Was a Dark and Silly Night for children, featuring comics by Lemony Snicket, William Joyce, and Neil Gaiman, to name just a few.

The statesman and the scientist

Today, February 12, marks the 200th birthday of two larger than life figures: Abraham Lincoln and Charles Darwin. Lincoln was born in Hardin County, Kentucky, grew up poor but went on to become a lawyer, congressman and 16th President of the U.S. A new biography by former Presidential candidate George McGovern part of the American Presidents Series, presents Lincoln as both politician, pragmatist and idealist.

Charles Darwin was born in Shrewsbury, England and is best known for his revolutionary (for his day) theories of evolution. A new and very readable book about Darwin in our collection is titled Charles Darwin: The Concise Story of a Remarkable Man which includes brief chapters and many illustrations, some which are Darwin's own photographs.

A book that looks at both these men as visionaries and men encumbered with their own personal struggles is Adam Gopnick's Angels and Ages: A Short Book About Darwin, Lincoln and Modern Life.

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