Kelly Hand

Between Art and Quarantine

Museums are among the many things that have been temporarily shut down. One of our librarians has been taking us on some great virtual tours of some of these museums. Recently another trend has begun as a way to interact with the art world. It’s called Between Art and Quarantine and you can get involved as well.

It began with the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam and was then taken up by the Getty in Los Angeles. The challenge invites you to use the online collections of museums as inspiration and then use household objects to re-create the artwork. People are then posting their creations to Instagram, Facebook and Twitter using the hashtag #betweenartandquarantine. The posts are creative and fun.

You can see above that my family got involved in the challenge over the weekend. Shown are our interpretations of Monet’s Poppy Field and Corot’s Interrupted Reading. Both of these pieces are owned by the Art Institute of Chicago.

This blog post from the Getty tells you more about the challenge, shows some creative examples that people have posted, and gives how-to’s for making your own re-creation.

If you want to explore more artworks or artists, you can always consult the MVCC Library collection. In the library catalog, do a search for a genre, era, or artist. Then to the left of your results click on E-books to see the online sources.

If you like, in addition to posting your work to social media, please share with me what you come up with. Email a picture of your art to I would love to see your creations!

Quarantine Book Clubs

Now that you’ve been inspired to read War and Peace by my “Reading Time” blog from earlier in the week, maybe you’d like to connect with other people doing the same thing. Together Tolstoy might be just the group for you. It’s a free virtual book club. It started a couple of weeks ago, but they’re taking it slowly, reading 12 to 15 pages per day. So there’s time for you to catch up. And by the time summer arrives, you will have read War and Peace!

But maybe that particular book isn’t your thing. There are all sorts of virtual book clubs you can enjoy. The Quarantine Book Club is hosting Zoom author chats with authors from various genres. Or you might enjoy the Translated Fiction Online Book Club with a Zoom meeting every week discussing a different translated work.

These are just scratching the surface of virtual book clubs and many have been around for some time. This article from Bustle has a collection of 14 book clubs for various reading interests. You can also search for your favorite book or author in Facebook groups and likely find all sorts of people from around the world to engage in discussions of your favorite plot points and characters.

Whether you intend to read alone or to discuss with a group, the MVCC Library has you covered, even when the library building is closed. In the library catalog, search for an author, title, or topic. Then use the limiters to the left of your results to see ebooks or even e-audio books.

Reading Time

In this time of social distancing, we are all finding ways to fill our time and finding that we now have time for things that we never did before. My teenage daughter took it upon herself to organize our home office. My mom’s neighbor spent 2 ½ hours organizing his light bulbs! Yes, these are strange times.

Perhaps now is the perfect time to tackle that doorstopper on your reading list. Have you always wanted to read War and Peace or Moby Dick? Or maybe you’d like to re-read the whole Harry Potter series. How long will it take? There are tools available to help you answer that question.

At you can enter the name of a book and it will tell you how many hours it takes the average reader to finish that book. It will also direct you to some tests for you to calculate your personal reading speed and allow you to enter your own wpm (words per minute), allowing you to see how long it will take you to read the book you’ve chosen.

How many books can you read in a year? A pretty good test of this is demonstrated in this Mental Floss article. Read the short excerpt and answer 3 multiple-choice questions. You’ll find out how long it will take you to read War and Peace or the entire Harry Potter series. It will then tell you how many books you can read in a year by devoting say 30 minutes per day to reading. The results will amaze you.

Do you need some books to put this new knowledge into action? The MVCC Library provides access to tons of ebooks. Use the library catalog to search for a title, author, or topic. Then use the limiters to the left of your results to see the ebooks. And just in case you were wondering, we do have War and Peace, Moby Dick and the Harry Potter series available in ebook form.

Coronavirus Scams

The Coronavirus outbreak has resulted in an over-abundance of information. Stories are coming at us at a rapid pace, from all different directions. This makes it especially difficult to know what is accurate and what is false. Scammers are out there trying to take advantage of this vulnerability and of people’s fears.

Newsguard has identified 100+ websites from the US and many other countries that publish false information, and to make matters worse, these websites are getting a lot traction on social media.

There are three major types of misinformation that we need to aware of:

  • False claims about the origin of the disease
  • Downplaying the seriousness of the disease
  • Phony cures

To be on guard against misinformation, it is always a good idea to examine the source.

  • Who wrote the information? What can you find out about the source by googling them?
  • What is their motivation? Is their real goal to sell a product, or ads, or to drive internet traffic?
  • Do other sources agree with the information?
  • How current is the information? Currency is always important, but now, with information changing so rapidly, it’s more important than ever.

To help you even more, here are some reputable websites set up to help combat coronavirus scams and misinformation:

Mythbusters from the World Health Organization

FTC Coronavirus Scams

NIH Coronavirus Situation Summary

The MVCC Library is here to help as well. Use our Ask a Librarian page to contact us with whatever questions you might have.

Stay safe!

Invent a New Game

Last week we talked about how to find e-books and streaming videos about your favorite sports to fill the gap left by the live sports hiatus in the world. If you missed that post you can find it here.

But maybe you don’t just miss watching sports. Maybe it’s the playing sports with your friends and teammates that you crave. It’s hard to do that when stuck in your house. Well, people are finding ways. Check out this article from Com!cSands, Now That All Sports Are Canceled, People Are Coming Up With Their Own Hilarious Competitions To Satisfy Their Competitive Spirits. My favorites are Turtle Tic-Tac-Toe and Roomba Curling. You might be inspired to come up with a competition of your own. Though be aware–it seems like pets aren’t very good at games.

Games entertain us. They make us think. They help us stay connected. To learn more about games and the important role they play in our lives you can find ebooks here and articles here. Be ready to login with your MVCC username and password.

No Sports?!

You’re stuck at home and you can’t even pass the time by watching a game? The MVCC Library can help with that. We have materials for sports fans that you can access from home. Follow the links below and be ready to login with your MVCC username and password. You can always search the Library Catalog for other sports as well, and then use the limiters to the left of the results for ebooks or streaming videos.


Sports in general






Streaming Videos

Sports in general






First Ladies

During the month of February, some attention is generally devoted to U.S. Presidents with the celebration of the President’s Day holiday. It’s also a great time to learn more about the women beside the men–U.S. First Ladies. 

The First Lady is most often the wife of the president. But, there have been eleven women who have filled the role who were relatives of bachelor or widowed presidents. Duties have evolved over time, with many first ladies taking on social issues such as civil rights, drug abuse, women’s rights, literacy and physical fitness. Some have become spokeswomen for their husbands and U.S. figureheads while traveling overseas. The First Lady receives no personal salary, but does have a staff and an office in the East Wing of the White House. 

First Ladies are an interesting group of people. Here are just a few tidbits:

  • There have been two first ladies born outside of the U.S. Louisa Adams was born in London in 1775. Almost 200 years later, Melania Trump was born in Slovenia in 1970. 
  • Two first ladies have been both wife and mother of a president: Abigail Adams and Barbara Bush. 
  • The two tallest first ladies were Eleanor Roosevelt and Michelle Obama, both 5’11”.
  • Speaking of Eleanor Roosevelt, she had her own plane and as a student pilot once flew with Amelia Earhart and took the controls for part of the flight. 
  • Eleanor Roosevelt refused Secret Service protection and opted instead to carry her own pistol as protection. 
  • Helen Taft was the first first lady to drive a car, to write her memoirs, and to smoke cigarettes in public. 
  • Helen Taft is also responsible for the cherry trees all over the nation’s capital. After a visit to Japan, she received 2000 cherry trees from the mayor of Tokyo and had them planted all over D.C.
  • Mary Todd Lincoln held regular seances at the White House.
  • During Prohibition, Florence Harding tended bar at her husband’s poker games with alcohol that was rumored to have been confiscated by authorities. 
  • Pat Nixon was the first first lady to wear pants in public. 
  • Jacqueline Kennedy won an Emmy. Hillary Clinton and Michelle Obama have each won a Grammy.
  • Mamie Eisenhower loved the color pink. In the 1950s, the color First Lady Pink, or Mamie Pink, was named after her and became quite popular for everything from clothing to kitchen cabinets.. 

You can find out more about these interesting women in history by visiting the websites of the First Ladies National Historic Site and the National First Ladies’ Library. Both of these are part of the National Park Service and are located in Canton, Ohio. You can also learn more about our nation’s first ladies by enjoying these items from the MVCC Library collection.

Before Ford vs Ferrari, It Was Ford & Edison

The recently released movie Ford vs Ferrari tells the story of the Ford Motor Company and its pursuit of sports-car racing glory while striving to defeat Ferrari after a deal to buy the Italian car company went bad. Ford had already been involved in racing Indy cars, stock cars and drag racing. Beating Ferrari at Le Mans would put Ford on the map in sports-car racing and hopefully entice younger buyers to buy Fords. Ford Motor Company wanted to be known as more than a maker of cars for family road trips.

It was different story 50 years earlier when Henry Ford helped introduce the road trip into American culture. Beginning in 1914 and continuing each year until 1924, Henry Ford and Thomas Edison, along with Harvey Firestone and John Burroughs, took summer road trips together all over the country. They camped along the way, with chefs and butlers in tow, and investigated travel conditions. They called themselves The Vagabonds. They also took along a film crew and their travels earned a lot of publicity. Enthusiasm for road trips increased and along with it roads and roadside services took shape.

To read the interesting story of their road trips and about the impact they had on culture and infrastructure, check out the book The Vagabonds: The Story of Henry Ford and Thomas Edison’s Ten-Year Road Trip.

For even more fun, watch some of the films The Vagabonds made on their travels. Several of them are available on YouTube. The video below from The Henry Ford offers some highlights or find them all here.

Library Spooktacular

The MVCC Library is showcasing some amazing creations from all over campus. We have 31 pumpkins so far in our annual Library Pumpkin Contest. Be sure to stop in an see them all and don’t forget to vote for your favorites.

Which pumpkin will win the trophy? Find out on Wednesday, Oct. 30th at 1pm in the Library.

Leaf Peeping

The days are getting shorter, which means chlorophyll production in trees is slowing. This lets the true colors of leaves come through. During the next few weeks, Fall colors will be everywhere. Whether you want to see the local showing or plan to take a leaf peeping trip, it helps to have an idea of when the best time to catch colors at their peak will be. This interactive Fall Foliage map from might help. You can view the predicted September through November progression of colors throughout the country.

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