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.

John Dingell Day in Michigan

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It's official, John Dingell is now the longest-serving representative in Congress. And to make it really official, Governor Granholm has issued a proclamation declaring today, February 11, 2009, John Dingell Day. Mr. Dingell has served over 53 years (19,420 days and counting) in Congress. (Only Senator Robert Byrd has served longer.) Dingell will be a special guest on NPR's Political Junkie today. PJ is part of Talk of the Nation at 2 p.m. on Michigan Radio.

Underground Railroad Display

Enjoy colorful creations by Judy Schmidt of Ann Arbor Storyteller’s Guild fame who incorporated the Monkey Wrench, Flying Geese, Bear Paw and other designs into her beautiful quilts. Stop by the glass case in the Downtown Youth Department to see books about the Underground Railroad and the much discussed Quilt Code and then check out Karen Simpson's lovely quilts on the far wall of the Youth Department. Maybe they will inspire you to color a quilt design of your own and hang it beside hers!

Please Pass The Potato Chips

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Craving a salty snack? Pick up a copy of Crunch!: A History of the Great American Potato Chip. Dirk Burhans (past publisher of Greasy Spoon magazine) takes readers on a journey from locally made treats to the multimillion dollar empire of today's snack food industry. Fans of pop culture and American trivia will enjoy the wealth of potato chip history found in this book. Being a midwesterner is also helpful, since Burhans' view is obviously influenced by his Ohio roots. Although the writing didn't always hold me glued to the book, I loved the illustrations - full color images of early advertising art, wacky historical photos (check out the 1952 National Potato Chip Institute Convention), and quirky potato chip paraphernalia. Please pass the dip.

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