Your Next 5 Books: Entertaining books for vacation

Readers in Seattle: Did you know you can get a personalized list of recommended reading? Here’s an example of  Your Next 5 Books — a reader’s request and the librarian’s recommendations (these suggestions from Eric at out Northgate Branch):

A Seattle reader wrote to us and said:

The books that have captivated me most recently are: The Help, The Silver Linings Playbook, Perks of Being a Wallflower, Night Circus, and the Hunger Games series.
I am currently reading Till We Have Faces by C.S. Lewis but am working slowly through it. I have a few items saved for future reads but I often am worried to try books that are not recommended by friends. I have only recently found time to be able to read for my own pure enjoyment (graduating from college) and don’t really want to take time to read something I don’t enjoy. I like books that are hard to put down as all of the above titles have been. I do not like anything very sexual and I like strong characters. Something with a weak female character especially is disappointing to me.
I really appreciate any suggestions you can give me. I am about to go on vacation and specifically would love some ideas to keep me entertained while traveling. Continue reading “Your Next 5 Books: Entertaining books for vacation”

Question of the Month: Baroque music notations

I have two music questions, both having to do with 18th century music notation: 1. Quantz used two slash marks, or something like quotation marks, over some notes. It looks like some kind of accent. What is the name of this mark and what does it mean? 2. in Telemann’s engravings he used a mark like a little hook at the end of a line to indicate the first note on the next line. What is the name of this mark?

Thank you for contacting the Seattle Public Library. I’m writing in response to your question about music notation symbols used in Baroque music.

Without seeing the actual markings in your music it is difficult to determine exactly the marking that you describe in your Quantz piece. A single vertical stroke above usually indicates a kind of staccato, not necessarily a short staccato, and probably more stressed (accented) that a staccato. Continue reading “Question of the Month: Baroque music notations”

September Question of the Month – an irregular series

I’m having the dickens of a time finding a definitive answer to the question “what is the largest nature preserve in the world?”  I’ve searched the web for hours and find many conflicting claims to the title but nothing with a reputable source. Since you have many resources beyond the Web available I’m hoping you can solve this problem for me. If you do come up with an answer please provide the source.  Thanks.

Thank you for your question regarding the largest natural preserve in the world. We found two sources stating that the Northeast Greenland National Park is the largest nature reserve (national park) in the world.

Nature Reserves of the World
1. Northeast Greenland National Park. The territory of the world’s largest nature reserve is 972 thousand square kilometers. On its territory can accommodate 163 smallest countries in the world. Opening of the Northeast Greenland National Park, May 22, 1974 at virtually uninhabited northern municipality Ittokortoormiit in eastern Greenland.
In 1988, to the park it added 272,000 square kilometers of county Avannaa in North Greenland. In 1977, the Northeast Greenland National Park was granted the status of the international biosphere reserve. The park Continue reading “September Question of the Month – an irregular series”

August Question of the Month – an irregular series

I’m wondering if you can tell me: what makes a hair stop growing? Why do, say, leg hairs or eyebrows stop growing,
but the hair on my head continues to grow?

Thank you for your question regarding differential growth rates of human hair types.

This is a very interesting question that has been addressed recently in a scholarly article – Human Head Hair Is Not Fur by AH Neufeld and GD Conroy. Evolutionary Anthropology, vol. 13:3, p. 89, June 2004.

Humans, like other mammals, have hair over most of their bodies. Head hair is different from hair elsewhere on the body because it continues to grow (although it is anatomically the same as other hair). When head hair is transplanted elsewhere, it grows longer than the hair on those parts of the body.

Here is a description of the growth process from that article:
“Both head hair and body fur grow in cycles. The hair follicle produces a strand of hair during its active growth phase, called anagen. Then the growth slows, and the follicle “rests” for a while, the telogen phase. Then comes exogen when the hair falls out, and the follicle begins growing a new strand of hair as the anagen phase begins again. Hair on the leg usually grows for 19 to 26 weeks and then falls out. Hair on the head keeps growing for two to six years.”

The article states that it is not known why head hair continues to grow, and further research is needed.

We hope this information is useful.

Got a stumper? Click on Ask a Librarian. It’s what we do.

July Question of the Month – an irregular series

Thank you for enlisting the help of The Seattle Public Library to identifythe history and use of the “floating shift” typewriter key you saw for sale in the FriendShop at our Central library. I am a librarian in the Business, Science and Technology department and I am happy to provide a little background information on this fascinating technological development.

According to popular advertisements of the 1930s and 40s, the “floating shift” key was a revolution in typewriter technology pioneered by the L.C. Smith and Corona company some time after the Smith and Corona companies merged in 1926. The earliest clear explanation we have been able to find for the function of this key is in an advertisement on page 11 of the September 13, 1936 issue of The Seattle Times.

The advertisement reads as follows:
“When you press the shift key (a) on other portables (to type capital letters), the entire heavy carriage (b) is lifted. When you press the shift key on CORONA, only the light type-segment (c) is moved—and it is lowered, not raised! Not only that, but the shift operated on ball bearings, almost without effort. CORONA’S ‘Floating Shift’ means faster, easier, quieter operation… perfect alignment… and genuinely lessened work.”

This innovation was likely fueled by intense competition among typewriter manufacturers of this era, as an article entitled “Flying Truck Here: Crowd Sees Tests,” we discovered on page 15 of the August 5, 1927 issue of the New York Times attests. This article describes a stunt organized by the Royal Typewriter company (an industrial underdog) to demonstrate the high caliber and durability of their portable machine by parachuting thousands of typewriters out of an airplane.

If you would like to view these and other historic newspaper articles about the amazing typewriter, head over to the Seattle Public Library website at Click on the link “Articles & Research,” then the category “Magazines & Newspapers,” and scroll down to select either Seattle Times Historic Archive (keywords: corona floating shift) or New York Times Historic (keywords: 1927 flying truck typewriter.)

Thanks for submitting your question to The Seattle Public Library!

Got a stumper? Click on Ask a Librarian. It’s what we do.