Sunday, May 14, 2017

On This Day in Government Documents: May 14th: America Explores! Lewis and Clark and Skylab

May 14th, 1804: Lewis and Clark set out on their Corps of Discovery 

The first federally funded scientific expedition set out to fulfill President Thomas Jefferson's instructions "to explore the Missouri [R]iver, & such principal stream of it as by it's course and communication with the waters of the Pacific ocean whether the Columbia, Oregon, Colorado or any other river may offer the most direct & practicable water communication across this continent for the purposes of commerce."

Lewis and Clark crossed into the western portion of the United States for the first time by Americans, exploring the recently acquired Louisiana land, mapping a path all the way to the Pacific Ocean. Their mission was not solely for science and research but also to establish an American presence before other European countries and to gather information on the native peoples of the western land with regard to culture and population size.

Explore their journey through Worcester Public Library's pamphlets, brochures, and other documents.

May 14th, 1973: Skylab launched into orbit

On this same date in 1973, another federally funded mission set out to explore. With the end of the Apollo missions, NASA set its sights on more long-term missions to research how humans and other organisms would fare in space.

Skylab was launched as an unmanned orbital workshop by the re-purposed Saturn V rocket from the Apollo missions in an effort to save money due to a dwindling budget. However, the vibrations from the launch resulted in several malfunctions including a torn off micrometeroid shield and damaged solar panels used to generate electricity. This left Skylab with only half of its power-generating capability and caused the lab to overheat.

Between 1973 and 1974, three manned missions traveled to Skylab to conduct scientific experiments, Skylab 1, Skylab 2, and Skylab 3. The first mission was able to repair the damage done to Skylab during the launch making the orbiting lab habitable for humans. Experiments conducted by the Skylab missions ranged from sleep monitoring to nuclear emulsion. One study from Biomedical Results from Skylab observed the zero-gravity effects on living human cells during Skylab 3. 

Interested in learning more about how important it is to fund science? Check out our reading list on the Skylab missions.

Thursday, May 11, 2017

Treasures From the Worcester Room: A Historic Cartoon

As the library looks ahead to its 2017-2022 strategic plan, it is interesting and important to look back to the library's past.  While many of the glimpses to the library's past housed in the library's Worcester Room Collection include such items as historic board minutes, circulation records and photographs, we do have many less traditional items as well.  One such example is a cartoon depicting a day in the life of the Worcester Public Library from noted award-winning illustrator and Worcester resident Vitty Mattus.

According to articles in the Worcester Telegram, Mattus had a long and distinguished career as an illustrator, becoming well known for Hawaiian landscapes painted during the Second World War.  He also assisted Leon Kroll in creating the war memorial paintings in the Worcester Memorial Auditorium.  Not to mention, he had a decades long career as an illustrator for the Worcester Telegram, which led to the creation of this particular cartoon.  While undated, this particular cartoon likely appeared in the Worcester Sunday Telegram's Feature Parade Magazine during the 1940s or 50s.  The item in question appears to be Mattus's original drawing, and contains notations telling newspaper staff how much to reduce the image for inclusion into the paper.

Many things have definitely changed in the years since Mattus's cartoon was first published.  For example, the library no longer lends out record albums, and cataloging staff no longer must hand-write out cards for a card catalog.  However, as Mattus charmingly illustrates, the library then as now serves as a place for young and old alike to check out items, converse socially and learn more about the world.  It just goes to show, the more things change, the more they remain the same.  This historic cartoon is just another example of the unique and fascinating items that you can find in the library's Worcester Room Collection.

More about Mattus and his work:

Thursday, April 27, 2017

MegaSlam IV: The Final Battle for Worcester

For the past four years, it has been my pleasure to work with Victor Infante, to put on MegaSlam: The Battle for Worcester.  Even now, it blows my mind that this year 64 people came  to the library on a random Wednesday night to listen to poetry!

The poets, in their inimitable fashion,  broke all of the rules, and they did it in style. The winner, Joe Fusco, Jr. walked away with bragging rights and a spiffy custom t-shirt! My sincere thanks go to all of the poets and all of the big-hearted and supportive audience members. You guys always make it worth it.

Joe Fusco Jr.

Joe Fusco, Jr. Winner, MegaSlam IV

Poetry Crowd
Poetry People

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Book Lists for Days II

Fiction Set in World War I

In commemoration of the 100th anniversary of the United States entering WWI, here's a list of historical fiction titles set during WWI.

Earth Day

Earth Day may have come and gone but book about the environment are always an interesting read.  From Al Gore's An Inconvenient Truth to Rachel Carson's Silent Spring, click here for a list of titles from our catalog.

Autism Awareness

Here are several titles to bring awareness and compassion to a disorder which affects 1 in 68 children.

On This Day in Government Documents: April 25, 1990, Hubble Space Telescope Deployed

Deployed on this day in 1990, the Hubble Space Telescope brought the promise of high-resolution images of our universe without the distortion of the Earth's atmosphere and light pollution.

Once the Hubble Space Telescope was launched by Discovery, NASA and the world would soon realize a problem with Hubble's main mirror would delay the much anticipated high-resolution telescope images. It took three years to design a solution for the problem and to send a shuttle crew to repair the faulty mirror.

Interested in learning more about one of the largest space telescopes? Worcester Main Library has many government documents published by NASA on the telescope and much more.

Check out our reading list and browse the documents below for more information. Want to view the sky through the lens of a telescope? Place a hold on one of Worcester Public Library's telescopes here.

Exploring the universe with the Hubble Space Telescope

Edwin P. Hubble - The namesake of our largest space telescope

Space telescope program review : 

hearing before the Subcommittee on Space Science and Applications of the 

Committee on Science and Technology, U.S. House of Representatives, 

Ninety-fifth Congress, second session, 

July 13, 1978.

Hubble: an overview of the space telescope

Hubble science year in review

Science with the Hubble Space Telescope-II

What a view: realizing a vision: first mission to service the Hubble Space Telescope

Saturday, April 22, 2017

Earth Day 2017

Need some books to get you into the spirit of Earth Day? We've got you covered! From Al Gore's An Inconvenient Truth to Rachel Carson's Silent Spring our book display will get you thinking about ways you can help our planet. Come visit the Worcester Public Main Library on the 2nd floor and grab some books from our Earth Day display today! Click here for a list of titles from our catalog.

Saturday, April 15, 2017

A "Tall" Tale of the Library Giraffe

Recently, the world has been focused on April the Giraffe; a giraffe at a zoo in New York who just gave birth to a baby giraffe.  Did you know that the Worcester Public Library has a giraffe of its very own?  We do! The library's children's room is home to Cecily G the giraffe.

Cecily G, made by the German company Steiff, first came to the library in 1975.  She was originally part of a display in the children's department of the Filene's in the now-defunct Worcester Galleria Mall according to a Worcester Telegram article.  When the store was looking to sell the giraffe, the library purchased her and named her Cecily G after the title character in the H.A. Rey book Cecily G and the 9 Monkeys.

While Cecily G was much-beloved by children, eventually she became so worn out due to years of attention, that the library was forced to place her in storage.  Eventually however, thanks to a generous donation, Cecily was sent to a stuffed animal restoration expert in Virginia and repaired.  In 2007 she returned to a place of pride in the children's room; her very own giraffe savanna.

While it might sound like a "tall" tale, Cecily the giraffe is just another example of the amazing things that you can find at the Worcester Public Library.  The next time you visit the library, stop by and say hello to Cecily G.

Thursday, April 13, 2017

The Italian Renaissance: Brought to you by The Medici

The Medici Family was fraught with contradictions; wealthy and murderous, yet patrons of the arts. This is The Medici. There would be no renaissance without them; the Medici funded the artists involved in one of the most important movements in the history of art. 

Among others, these artists were supported by the Medici:

  •  Michelangelo

  • Raphael

  • Donatello, and

  • Leonardo da Vinci.

The Medici increased their wealth by providing banking services to the wealthy and to the Pope. Their connection to the Pope gained them a high status, power, and influence. They were known to be unscrupulous in their schemes to gain power and money. 

Read more about the famous Medici real-life drama:

The Medici

Ferdinand Schevill

945.5 S328m

The last Medici

Harold Acton

929.2 M489a 1980

Florence and the Medici

J. R. Hale

945.5 H162f 2001

The Medici, godfathers of renaissance


The Medici: a great Florentine family

Marcel Brion

OVERSIZE 929.2 M489b

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Stump the Librarian: Day Four

Today's Stump the Librarian question is relevant to the holiday of Passover: Are there Kosher for Passover, gluten-free paper plates?

Short answer: yes.

Longer answer: You wouldn’t normally think that paper plates might contain gluten, but it is sometimes possible that the starch used in binding the paper pulp could contain wheat (which is a no-no for Passover). Furthermore, there are stringent requirements for certifying a product as Kosher for Passover (and there are multiple Kosher certification agencies). The Orthodox Union states that people may use paper goods containing corn starch even though they are not certified (source:* Another certifying agency, OK, has a list of Kosher for Passover paper plates here: *

*Worcester Public Library does not endorse any of the aforementioned certifying agencies/products and is not responsible for determining if a particular product meets certain standards. Please check with a religious official if you have additional questions on this subject.

Thanks to everyone who submitted a question today for our fourth day of Stump the Librarian as part of our National Library Week festivities! Each day from 4/9-4/15, we will select a question and try to answer it (we welcome all ages to ask questions!). You may submit your challenging questions in person using our box by the self checkout machines at the Main Library, email us at (subject: Stump the Librarian), or PM us on Facebook! If you stump us, you'll win a library lovers prize (if you don't stump us, you'll still get a prize)! Good luck!

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

On this Day in Government Documents: April 11th, The Launch of the Ill-Fated Apollo 13

Forty-seven years ago today Apollo 13 launched from Kennedy Space Center in Florida with every intention of being the third manned mission to land on the moon. The trajectory of this mission soon changed from a space odyssey to a rescue effort that tested the ingenuity of the flight crew and the Houston flight controllers. Not only did this incredible event inspire a major motion picture (which misquoted “Houston, we’ve had a problem” with “Houston, we have a problem,” not an uncommon mistake as seen in the second government document titled, “Houston, we’ve got a problem”) but it also launched a bevy of government documents ranging from congressional hearings regarding the mission and the accident to a four volume chronology on the spacecraft, all available for your research needs at the Worcester Public Library. Click here to see documents published by the U.S. government on Apollo 13 held at Worcester Public Library.   

Apollo 13: "Houston, we've got a problem"


 "SPACECRAFT - Hey, we've got a problem here.
     Thus, calmly, Command Module Pilot Jack Swigert gave the first intimation 
of serious trouble for Apollo 13 - 200,000 miles from Earth.
     CAPSULE COMMUNICATOR - This is Houston; say again, please. 
     SPACECRAFT - Houston, we've had a problem. We've had a Main B bus undervolt."


"For three long minutes no word was heard from the
spacecraft as friction with the air raised the heat shield to a
fiery glow that blacked out radio communication."


BONUS: The Apollo spacecraft: a chronology is available as an online resource!

Friday, April 7, 2017

outsider art:

outsider art: any work of art produced by an untrained artist who is typically unconnected to the conventional art world—not by choice but by circumstance.
The characterization of the artists who create outsider art were socially or culturally marginal figures.
These people nevertheless produced—out of adversity and with no eye on fame or fortune—substantial high-quality artistic oeuvres.

These works are from musician activist and artist Tim Kerr.

These works are from street artist Brian "Bydeeman" Joseph.

For more information: 
Kinshasha Conwill
759.1 T344
Extraordinary Interpretations : Florida's self-taught artists
Gary Monroe
709.759 MONROE
The preference for the primitive
H. Gombrich
700.4145 GOMBRICH 2006
Outsider Art
Roger Cardinal
American Self-Taught
Frank Maresca
709.73 M325a
Drawing the city
Behan, Teju
759.95 BEHAN

Tuesday, April 4, 2017

Treasures from the Worcester Room: Worcester's Major League Team

As the Boston Red Sox open up the 2017 Major League Baseball season, it is interesting to remember that Worcester once had its own MLB team.  In fact, the Worcester team is responsible for some fascinating and important baseball milestones as well.  Between 1880 and 1882, Worcester was home to the incredibly, creatively named "Worcester Worcesters".  The Worcester Public Library's Worcester Room has a number of resources that detail the team's unique legacy.

Originally a minor league team, the Worcester Worcesters joined the majors in 1880 thanks to a campaign spearheaded by manager Frank Bancroft.  Bancroft was apparently quite a skilled promoter.  For example, as can be seen in the newspaper article above, the Worcester team became the first American professional baseball team to play in Cuba.

One of the proudest moments for the Worcesters was when pitcher Lee Richmond (pictured above) became the first pitcher in Major League history to throw a perfect game.  On June 12, 1880, he completed the rare feat as the Worcesters beat Cleveland 1-0.  Richmond was so skilled a player that as one baseball history site says, "his dominance for Brown University’s squad – while he was being lured in and out of the majors by Harry Wright and Frank Bancroft – so upset the Ivy League that they legislated against any 'professionalism' in the college ranks, laying the foundation of NCAA policy to this day."

While Richmond was an ace pitcher, the Worcesters were perhaps not the most skilled team.  As the book The Worcester Club: 1880-1882 charitably states, "it became evident that the Worcesters weren't the best team in the league, but they prided themselves on being the most gentlemanly."  At the end of the 1882 season, due to low attendance numbers, the Worcesters were removed from the league.

Interestingly, after the club disbanded, Richmond would go on to become a doctor, and then a math teacher in Ohio, where he taught the son of another perfect game pitcher.  According to an article from the Society for American Baseball Research, Richmond told his young student "Your father pitched a perfect game. Well, so did I. It doesn’t mean anything around here and it isn’t going to help you with your geometry."

While baseball is now back in Worcester, with the Bravehearts playing games here every summer, it is important to look back on the legacy of the Worcesters.  Just another example of the fascinating stories of Worcester's long history that you can find in the Worcester Room.

Monday, March 27, 2017

Book Lists for Days

Dear Worcester Readers,

Looking for something to read?  Library staff has compiled a few book lists on varied topics for your browsing pleasure. Click on any link below to see what's checked in, what's check out, and what looks good to you!

Funny, Punny Titles

It's cold! Which makes it a perfect time to curl up with a cozy mystery! Click on the link above for funny, punny titles

No more episodes of Penny Dreadful? Here’s what to read next!

World Stories for the Community

A wide-ranging list of novels, biographies, memoirs and short story collections to promote understanding of other cultures.

Spiritual Matters

A collection of thoughtful items that encourage self-reflection and peace.

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Un-Common Cinema Presents: From Nothing, Something

Saturday, April 15
2:30 - 4:30 p.m.
Saxe Room

Join us for a monthly screening
of thought provoking film, followed
by a lively discussion of
the issues presented.

Have you ever wondered about the creative process??

About where ideas come from?

And how creatives manage to find these ideas 
over and over as they work?  

On April 15th, 2017, the Worcester Public Library will be showing the documentary "From Nothing, Something."

We will be screening the film and discussing it. 
The film will bring many interesting questions to explore. 

Monday, February 27, 2017

Treasures From the Worcester Room: A Pre-War Playbill

As the United States prepares to commemorate the one hundred year anniversary of America's entry into World War I this year, it is interesting to note that the United States entered the war relatively late.  As such, the war was a subject of fascination to many Americans for years, without Americans having declared a side.  Along those lines, it is interesting to look at at a play that was performed in Worcester 101 years ago this month in February of 1916.  That play was Under Fire written by Roi Cooper Megrue.

The Worcester Room's collection of theater programs has always been one of the collections that has interested me the most.  Not only does it demonstrate how Worcester has long been a home for the arts, it also helps to demonstrate the opinions and culture of the city at the time.  This particular program has a few interesting features worth highlighting.  The program insists that the production is "new and neutral" and promises a show free from "noise, horror and atrocities" and featuring "thrills, comedy and romance". This shows a country and a city that could still look at the First World War through the eyes of a third-party observer.  In fact, when researching the history of the production, I found one article from the time that mentioned that when the show was running on Broadway, the director hired reservists from the German army who were living in America to play German soldiers.  This was mere months before the United States would be battling the German army in Europe.  Just another great example of the treasures that can be found in the library's Worcester Room.