The art of refrigerator magnets

I love refrigerator magnets. 

I’m not one to accumulate things, but I am fond of these humble collectibles.  These souvenirs are daily reminders of wonderful places I’ve been, take little space, and stay put where I place them!  They are also great for holding up notes and to-do lists.  Just because it is an inexpensive hobby doesn’t mean the magnets must look tacky.  Over the years, I have come to acquire a respectable collection of decorative magnets that graces the entire front of my refrigerator.  I still have some room on the sides…

My refrigerator has served me well in other ways, however, after years of faithful service, it is time to replace it with another one.  I will use many tools for buying a refrigerator.  In case you are also in need of a new unit, I would like to share this information with you.

Consumers Union is a nonprofit organization dedicated to consumer protection and information.  Its excellent monthly publication Consumer Reports is available at every branch of The Seattle Public Library.  With my Library card number and PIN, I can view it also as an online database via the Library’s Web site.  Current models have been tested and rated for features such as energy efficiency, ease of use, and noise.

Seattle City Light is offering rebates to its customers.  If I recycle my old refrigerator in accordance with Washington State disposal laws and also purchase a qualified ENERGY STAR model, I will receive a $50 rebate (until the end of the year).   The federal ENERGY STAR program promotes products by identifying refrigerators that are at least 20% more energy-efficient than other models.  You can read about the rebate and see the list of qualified refrigerators here.   In addition, Seattle City Light will pick up and recycle an old, but working, non-primary refrigerator or freezer for a $30 rebate.  The $50 and $30 rebates cannot be combined.  Rebates for other appliances are also available.

I will look forward to saving money on my electric bill as modern refrigerators are three to four times more efficient than older ones.  Did you know that Seattle City Light makes available an electricity use meter called Kill A Watt™ at The Seattle Public Library?  It measures the electrical consumption of small to medium appliances, including refrigerators and other appliances that cycle on and off.  Shelved just like a book, you can read more about it here

An important consideration for me is that I will want the front surface of the new refrigerator to be magnetic.  It will probably not be a stainless steel one as most stainless steel is non-magnetic (due to the presence of the element nickel).  To test for this feature, I intend to take one of my magnets to the appliance store!

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.

February Question of the Month – an irregular series

During the French Revolution of 1789-1799, a woman was executed. She was married to a member of the nobility. Her husband was a well known scientist (?), as was she. What was her name?

Thank you for your question. The French husband and wife scientific team were Antoine and Marie Lavoisier. Lavoisier, a chemist and physicist, established the practice of accurate measurement Continue reading “February Question of the Month – an irregular series”

January Question of the Month – an irregular series

 I would like to know how long it would have taken to travel by train from Seattle to Boston in 1910. Thank you for your assistance.

Thank you for using our Ask a Librarian service with an inquiry about the length of time it would take to travel by train from Seattle to Boston in 1910. Continue reading “January Question of the Month – an irregular series”

Tell them what you think!

People so often disagree with what is going on with Congress, their state legislature, their city council and you have the option of voting them out of office…but how often do you actually tell them what you think?

Well first, of course, you have to contact them…but how to find that information? How do I email someone in Government? Continue reading “Tell them what you think!”