July 2nd, 2015

When something as violent, hateful, and tragic as the June 17th shooting at Charleston’s Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church takes place, it can be difficult to know how to respond and move forward. For many, this act of terrorism evoked a long history of racial conflict and violence, and to engage in conversations about the current state of race relations, we all need to have this historical perspective. Within days of the massacre, academics, educators, librarians, and activists were sharing resources on social media connected with the hashtag CharlestonSyllabus. Chad Williams, Associate Professor of African and African-American studies at Brandeis University and one of the founders of the hashtag, speaks to the value of this movement:

What quickly emerged in just two days was a diverse community of people from a variety of professions, with divergent levels of historical expertise, all sharing a desire to educate, learn and challenge the prevailing discourse about race stemming from the Charleston tragedy…This endeavor is a work of serious historical scholarship firmly rooted in the African American intellectual tradition.

These resources have been collected by the African American Intellectual History Society, an organization founded in January 2014 to foster dialogue about researching, writing, and teaching black thought and culture. The #Charlestonsyllabus page is an extraordinary collection that includes many primary sources available online as well as books and articles you can find or order through the Moraine Valley library.

Greece and the Euro

June 29th, 2015

Greece is well-known as the birthplace of Western civilization. This small country developed the basis of western-style democracy, philosophy, architecture and literature. Fast forward 4000 years and the glory that was Greece is rapidly imploding. Greece, a member of The European Union, owes The International Monetary Fund $1.73 billion. The economy of Greece has been on a downward spiral for a number of years, and the Greek government has decided to hold a national referendum to choose what course of action the country should take.

Use the MVCC catalog and databases to get more background information on The European Union, The IMF and the country of Greece.



Those Crazy Swedes: History and the Bishop Hill Colony

June 29th, 2015

Here is a video I did as a guest lecture for HIS 207, Illinois History. This based on research I did as an undergraduate for a history thesis. I used the library’s new multimedia software to create it.

Those Crazy Swedes: History and the Bishop Hill Colony

Gender-Neutral Washrooms the Next Debate

June 29th, 2015

Following the Supreme Court’s history ruling legalizing same-sex marriage, the next issue may be related to transgender people. One of the issues is related to gender-neutral washrooms. Check out this article from the Sun Times: Gay alderman proposes gender-neutral washrooms to accomodate transgender Chicagoans.

I post this because MVCC’s GASP! students have brought up this issue over the last academic year. They presented a petition to the MVCC Board of Trustees. Our college has several single-use washrooms on campus.

Dave’s ESL Café for English Language Learners

June 24th, 2015

This online resource has been around since 1995, and it is an opportunity for self-teaching. Click on the URL and check it out at www.eslcafe.com.

Video Review of Graphic Novel a + e 4ever by Ilike Merey

June 24th, 2015

I put together a review of the graphic novel a + e 4ever by Ilike Merey. This is one of those books that could easily be overlook but really excellent. I think many of our students will connect with it. We have copies for checkout in our library!

a + e 4ever by Ilike Merey (a review)

Confederate (Flags) in the Attic

June 23rd, 2015

After the horrific and tragic murders in an historic black Charleston church last week, South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley has declared that the Confederate flag should be taken down from state Capitol grounds. The conversation is spreading to governments and the public in other states as well. The most common argument made against removing the flag is that it is a symbol of heritage and history, not racism and hate.  Although that sentiment may seem illogical to many now, the on-going conversation around the issue tells us a lot about contemporary American culture.

We have multiple copies of a book that explores exactly these issues in a provocative and clear-eyed way.  It’s a book familiar to many of us in the Moraine community, since it was our One Book, One College selection in 2012. Tony Horwitz’s Confederates in the Attic: Dispatches from the Unfinished Civil War examines the sometimes romantic and nostalgic ways that the Civil War is remembered in the South.  Horwitz, a Pulitzer Prize winning journalist, takes us on a tour and shows us all the ways that the war is ingrained in people’s lives.  Although at times the book is very, very funny it definitely provides a no-nonsense look at serious political and social issues.  A must-read for anyone who wants to think about how Americans remember the past and deal with the present.

Here’s the Buzz, Honey.

June 16th, 2015

Bees are some of nature’s most fascinating creatures.  Recently, bees have been dying off at alarming rates, which greatly threatens the health of our ecosystem so it’s more important than ever before to brush up on the subject. Here are some highlights from our collection so you don’t feel the sting of ignorance on the subject.

First, the facts.  Bees: A Natural History will introduce you to bees, their importance to biodiversity and food security, and the different characteristics of diverse species.   The more you learn, the more fascinating they are.  You may end up wanting to take a more active role to make sure bees thrive locally, which leads us to…

You know what’s cooler than a backyard chicken coop?  A rooftop beehive.  The Rooftop Beekeeper: A Scrappy Guide to Keeping Urban Honeybees by Megan Paska will give you all the details about getting your bees, building your hive, and harvesting your honey.

Always leave room for wonder and imagination in your quest for knowledge.  The Bees by Laline Paul is probably unlike any novel you’ve read recently.  It’s about Flora 717, a worker bee in an orchard hive who becomes a part of the queen bee’s inner circle.  It’s thrilling and will have you looking at the next bee that buzzes around you in a totally different way.



The U. S. Drought Map

June 11th, 2015

Despite the heavy rains in Texas in May, drought conditions continue to be present throughout our country. Take a look at this article from The New York Times. Scroll down the page to see data from decades. Drought is not a new phenomenon.

Click here for the article.

Meet Our New Poet Laureate

June 10th, 2015


Juan Felipe Herrera, the son of Mexican migrant workers, was named Poet Laureate of the United States. He is the first Latino to be appointed to this Library of Congress post.

“The Poet Laureate receives a modest stipend and is expected to present one major poetic work and to appear at certain national ceremonies.”

Check out MVCC’s collection of Hispanic Literature.