Library Contributor

Film Blog: Castle in the Sky

Last time we featured Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind, which was Miyazaki’s first animated feature film.Today we’re going to continue on that trend of Miyazaki films with Castle in the Sky. This film is considered the first Studio Ghibli produced film (1986).

The film opens with an engineer’s apprentice Pazu finding an unconscious and floating Sheeta. The story is filled with adventure as Sheeta and Pazu as they are chased by mysterious agents and even pirates! This is definitely a story for everyone. Be sure to check out the trailer before for more information, also check out Studio Ghibli’s website here.

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Spring Is Coming, So Are Our Newest Streaming Videos

MV Library has a new series of streaming videos this March:

Engineering an Empire


(Taken from

Engineering an Empire is a documentary program on History Channel that explores the accomplishments of engineering and architecture in the history of the world. This program includes the following episodes:
Rome; Egypt; Greece; The Aztecs; Carthage; The Maya: Death Empire; Russia; Britain: Blood and steel; The Persians; Da Vinci’s World

The Men Who Made Us Fat


(Taken from

Around the world, obesity levels are rising. This three- episode documentary series entitled The Men Who Made Us Fat explores the political, economic and social events that led to our increasingly overweight world.
The Men Who Made Us Fat: Part 1
The Men Who Made Us Fat: Part 2
The Men Who Made Us Fat: Part 3

Children in No Man’s Land


(Taken from

Children in No Man’s Land is an award-winning documentary that uncovers the current plight of the 100,000 unaccompanied minors entering the United States every year. Click here to view.

New books, DVDs, music CDs, e-resources, activities, programs and SO MUCH MORE in MV Library!



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Art for you and me: The National Gallery of Art’s Research Tools

Today marks the anniversary of the National Gallery of Art’s official opening on March 17, 1937  by President Franklin D. Roosevelt.  The National Gallery of Art was built during the Great Depression and started its collection with a large donation by a wealthy art collector, Andrew Mellon.  The night of March 17th ol’ FDR made a profound speech to the over eight thousand attendees at the opening.  He made clear that the National Gallery of Art was for the people of the United States, to provide access to the art forall citizens who wish to enjoy it.  In reference to the donors, FDR mentioned they “felt some desire to establish not a memorial of themselves but a monument to the art that they love and to the country they belong.”

Opening night of the National Gallery of
Opening night of the National Gallery of Art.

In following with the tradition set the night of its opening, the National Gallery of Art offers many free services (and free admission!) to anyone seeking information or access to the art in its collection.

River Landscape by Annibale Carracci
River Landscape by Annibale Carracci

If you can’t visit the physical gallery the NGA offers a couple different ways to view the art or find further information on either art pieces or the artists.   If you are researching a specific artist and would like to see which of their pieces are in the NGA’s collection use their Collection Search guide under the top tab “Collections.” What is really neat about this search function is the NGA provides records and in many cases photos of art they have in collection but not currently on display.  Think of it as a behind the scenes look since most of the collection is in storage or out on loan to another museum.

Look Mickey by Roy Lichtenstein


For those doing research on artists but don’t have the full name the NGA’s  Artists page provides three main ways to narrow down your search.  On the left hand side of the page you can sort by nationality, life span range and the first letter of the last name.  This comes in handy when you have an assignment to writing on artists from a specific country or time period.

Untitled (Manhattan at Night) by Ellison Hoover

The Center for Advanced Study in the Visual Arts is housed next to the NGA and their publication, Center, can be viewed and used for research for free through the NGA.  If you were to need further assistance in research, the NGA’s library has numerous resources and guides to assist you and you can always contact them if you need further help.

Here at Moraine Valley Library we have a research guide specifically for researching Art and Art History, long with a list of databases.   And remember, if you need any assistance in trying to find information for your finals coming up you can always ask a librarian.


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Using Google Docs for Paperless Group Assignments


(Image from

Recently I had a group project with my classmates from my media services class, and all of us were enjoying using Google Docs to share our ideas and comments. When different people open the same document, Google Docs lets you know where exactly in the document other persons are ready to type. That makes it easy for you not to be working on the exact same piece of text and thus avoids confliction. You can edit the documents and mark the modifications. Besides, you can add people (may be your professors) to help editing or reviewing; those helpers can be assigned different access levels such as modification and read-only. Another feature is that Google Docs allows us to manage files via various platforms including mobile phones, Apple iPads, and of course PCs. When you finish editing your team works, documents will be saved automatically in your Google account. Since files are associated with your Google account, which can be logged in with anywhere, you do not need to make duplicate copies from one place to another. Make sure you collect email addresses of your group, and create group email lists before you start your team projects. Want detailed steps to utilize the above features? Check this free Google Docs Tutorial right now!

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What’s Prussia got to do with it?

Today, February 25th marks 68 years since the official end to the Prussian Empire.  What is Prussia you ask?  It was the Empire that built Germany into a major political player in Europe and was the glue that made the German states hold together to become one German Empire.  When World War I came knocking at the doors of Europe, the Prussian Empire was one of the loudest knocking.  By the time the Treaty of Versailles was signed at the end of the war though Germany was in a state of havoc and ruins.  The harsh conditions of the treaty, stating Germany was the loser and must be pay for their actions,  sparked a flame of revenge that resulted in World War II twenty years later.   Alright, let me back up a bit and explain what Prussia was and why it’s actions help lead up to WWI.

Germany was not always unified, in fact before unification in 1871 Germany was 27 separate states  each with their own royal leader. Hard to get things done with so many people in charge.  In the decades leading up to 1871 Prussia and its leaders were picking battles and building the most rigid and respected military of its day.  After winning the Schleswig Wars, the Austro-Prussian War and the Franco-Prussian War steps were made under the leadership of Otto von Bismarck to unite the German states once and for all.  Even though it was called the German Empire the leadership was given to the Prussian Empire.  Below is a map showing where the Prussians were and where the boarders were under their leadership of Germany.

prussian empire

Later in 1914 it was the close ties of the Prussian Empire with the Austro-Hungarian Empire that put the two countries along with the Ottoman Empire up against the Allied forces of Great Britain, France, Russia, Italy and in 1917 the United States.

In building itself up to be a major political player in Europe, the Prussians made a lot of promises and treaties with other nations.  It was their treaty of alliance with the Austro-Hungarian Empire that officially engaged Prussia in the battle.


You see, the Austro-Hungarian’s Emperor Franz Ferdinand was assassinated by a Serbian on June 28th of 1914.  On July 28th Austria- Hungary declared war on Serbia.  Serbia at the time had a treaty with Russia who was obligated to assist them in battle against the Austro-Hungarian military.  The Prussian Empire declared war on Russia shortly after on August 1st because they saw the mobilization of the Russian military as an act of war against their ally.  By the end of WWI all three of the Empires fell or changed politics and borders of Europe were changed dramatically.


In 1947 Germany officially called an end to the Prussian Empire.  The Prussians lost power in 1918 with the last Prussian Emperor, William II, being abdicated just 17 days after the war ended. He later died while exiled in the Netherlands in 1942.

Since 2014 to 2018 mark 100 years since WWI many special projects and resources are being made available to remember those that fought and those that gave their life.   On a national level the World War One Centennial Commission was approved by President Obama in 2013.  The project’s goal is to offer many resources, programs and events related to remembering the war. Locally here in Chicago we have the Pritzker Military Museum and Library which has virtual exhibits, photos and film from WWI, and both primary and secondary resources for studying not only WWI but all campaigns of United States military history.

Remember, if you want to learn more or find additional resources you can always ask a librarian!



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Graphic Novel Series: Ghost World

Today I’m going to be highlighting the cult classic Ghost World, which was published in 1997 by Daniel Clowes. This story focuses on Rebecca and Enid, who are best buddies preparing for life after graduation. The graphic novel follows their lives as they do what most teenagers do, which is go to the mall and pretend to be adults. Ghost World is known for its dark humor and examination of relationships.

In 2001, the graphic novel was adapted for the big screen by the graphic novel’s author Daniel Clowes and the director Terry Zwigoff. If you’re interested in seeing the film, you’ll find a very young (just 17 years old!) Scarlett Johansson as Rebecca. This film was made just a couple of years before Johansson starred in Lost in Translation, which won an Oscar for Best Original Screenplay in 2004 among many other nominations and awards. Thora Birch plays the other angsty teenager Enid and Steve Buscemi who plays Enid’s quasi-love interest. We unfortunately don’t have the film in the library, but it’s worth viewing if you like the graphic novel. I’ll just leave the trailer below for your viewing pleasure.

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Free tickets for Macbeth at the Dorothy Menker Theater!

CaptureMacbeth is coming to the Dorothy Menker Theater on Monday March 2 at 7pm and will be FREE to all students and staff. This presentation is brought to you by Shakespeare Project of Chicago who work to bring the works of Shakespeare to the community. If you’d like to read more about the play, click here and if you’d like to see other events that will be held at the Dorothy Menker Theater, click here for more information.

In the library we have many different video versions of Macbeth available to check out. Thew newest Macbeth film in the collection stars Patrick Stewart and is set in the 20th century in an underground facility. We also have many versions of the play and literary criticisms available. Be sure to check out this FREE event!

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Film Blog Series: New Marvel Movies Added!

Today I’m featuring the latest Marvel movies added to our collection, which are Iron Man 2, Iron Man 3, and The Avengers! But just in case you haven’t seen Iron Man, we have that film in the library as well! You could definitely make a weekend out of it especially considering the cold temperatures outside.

If you’re interested in learning more about Marvel, I would highly recommend checking out Marvel Comics: The Untold Story by Sean Howe.

This summer will be a big summer for Marvel, which will have TWO big films come out. Avengers: Age of Ultron comes out May 1st while Ant-Man comes out July 17th.  I’m going to leave you with a preview for both films below.


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Popular social media tools for teaching and learning!

(Photo from
(Photo from

More and more educators and administrators are learning to use social media tools effectively for students in today’s professional learning communities. Using social networking technologies as educational tools in classroom can boost student engagement and interaction. Young generation learners will feel more comfortable and flexible expressing themselves on Twitter, Wikispaces, YouTube, and blogs. In addition, social media tools can enhance communication among students and teachers and help them establish an online body of work. Educators can post assignments or announcements via social media, answer students’ questions, share interesting Web sites and help students to create multimedia content information centers. However, our educators and administrators also need to carefully craft and evaluate social media policies before applying these technologies. How to choose the right tool for your classes and students is a critical issue, and here are 6 Alternative Social Media Tools for Teaching and Learning that serve as a good start. My favorites tools are Diigo, Pinterest, and Feedly, and what is yours?

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Film Blog: Studio Ghibli Series and Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind

Today I’m going to start featuring all the Studio Ghibli/Miyazaki films we have in our collection. For those of you who have never heard of Studio Ghibli, you’re in for a treat! I will introduce the films in chronological order to make it a little easier.

Studio Ghibli was founded by Hayao Miyazaki and Isao Takahata in 1985. Before Miyazaki founded Studio Ghibli, he illustrated manga and even wrote a series (considered to be his life’s work) called Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind. The book was later turned into a film in 1982, which is why it’s being featured here! So technically the film I’m featuring isn’t a Studio Ghibli film, but it was written and directed by a Studio Ghibli founder.

For those of you who have never seen a Studio Ghibli film, you should probably first know that most of the their films have an element of magical realism meaning there’s some element of fantasy within the story that seems completely normal. Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind takes place in an unknown time (but probably in the future) after a toxic war has killed many people and has pretty much left the world desolate. The only thing thriving are large mutant insects and the Toxic Jungle where humans aren’t allowed. I don’t want to give too much away, so I’ll just leave it at that. I’m leaving a trailer below, so you can decide for yourself.

You should also check out the Studio Ghibli website so you can see all the the Ghibli films out there. They also include summaries and movie trailers to watch. If you wan to learn more about Miyazaki, you should check out The Genius and Wonder of Hayao Miyazaki Timeline.


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