Lori Koetters

What’s My Topic?

Is it time to start thinking about a topic for your paper or your speech? You might want to look at SIRS Researcher to get some ideas. SIRS Researcher is one database available through the Library website. In SIRS Researcher, you can browse topics and categories.

Opening page of SIRS Researcher database with SIRS Issues Researcher and Trending Topics titles highlighted in gold boxes.
Opening page of SIRS Researcher database.

You may find a topic that you have always been interested in or you may find a topic you don’t know much about. It’s easy to browse.

Page from SIRS Researcher database with Need help choosing a topic? title highlighted in gold box above a grid selection of 10 selections.
“Need help choosing a topic?” section of SIRS Researcher database.

SIRS Researcher has thousands of full-text articles exploring social, scientific, health, historic, business, economic, political, and global issues. The articles come from newspapers, magazines, scholarly journals, books, and government documents.

Access SIRS Researcher.

We also have a Help Guide for SIRS Researcher.

If you need help with this database or any database, Ask a Librarian!

New Words to Use in Scrabble

The new edition of the official Scrabble dictionary has added hundreds of new words, such as sheeple, bitcoin, emoji, and puggle. Other big news in the Scrabble world is that the word “OK” is now acceptable. Scrabble has been around since the 1930s but it needs to change as language changes.  The library does not have any books about Scrabble specifically, but we do have a book about board games: It’s All a Game: The History of Board Games from Monopoly to Settlers of Catan by Tristan Donovan. And the library has many dictionaries for you to use, including online access to the Oxford English Dictionary.

MLA and APA Citation Information

Classes have started. You see on the syllabus that you will need to provide MLA or APA citations for an assignment or for a paper. Maybe that is new to you—or maybe you don’t remember the details from your high school classes. The library can help! You can stop by the library and talk to a librarian about citation. Or, go to the “Research Tools” page on the library website. Click “Citing Sources” in the middle of the Research Tools page (under Featured Services). The Citing Sources Guide has a variety of links and instructional videos that show citation examples for journal articles, web pages, books, and many other sources. As always, help is available from the librarians or from the Speaking and Writing Center.

“Insightful” Google Searches

Do you always accept the top Google results as factual? Are you sure? An old standby in the research world is now ready to give you some help. Encyclopaedia Britannica has a new Chrome extension, “Britannica Insights,” that adds information to the top right of the results page when you search for something. There are limits, of course. Britannica admits it works best for scientific or historical information.

Read more about it: Chicago Tribune, Wired, and The Verge

Fast Food History

Most of us have eaten at McDonald’s. Do you know how the company started? Two brothers in California developed a system in the 1950s to serve just a few quality items quickly at their hamburger stand. They were the McDonald brothers and, at the time, they were pretty satisfied with their company and product. But a shake machine salesman from Illinois saw a big future in the business.

The Founder is a movie from 2017 that tells how Ray Kroc got into business with the brothers. At first, he had the job of setting up McDonald’s franchises around the country. After a few years, he took over the company. He then called himself the founder of the company. You can decide if you agree. Check out the DVD and see the performances by Michael Keaton, Nick Offerman, and John Carroll Lynch.

Rating Biographies of the Presidents

There are many, many presidential biographies. Now someone is reading many of them for you, rating them, and providing reviews on his blog. Stephen Floyd is an investment banker and an “avid fan of American history.” He has merged his love of American history and great biographies to focus on finding the best biographies of each president. In 2012, he started with George Washington and is now working on biographies of Richard Nixon. See his blog for the list of biographies and his reviews.

Mount Vernon History

Today, Feb. 22, is George Washington’s birthday. Washington’s home, Mount Vernon, was saved from ruin by the Mount Vernon Ladies’ Association, a group that organized in 1853 and raised funds nationwide to purchase the property in Virginia. The association still manages the historic site.

The New American Writers Museum

The American Writers Museum, 180 N. Michigan Ave., Chicago, is a new entry in the local museum scene. A current exhibit celebrates the work of Laura Ingalls Wilder. Upcoming events include a discussion of the life and work of Lorraine Hansberry (Feb. 9) and Madeleine L’Engle (Feb. 11). Eve Ewing will discuss her book Electric Arches with poet José Olivarez on Feb. 13. See the website for more information about the museum and events.

MLA and APA Citation Help

It’s that time of the year again. As you are finishing your paper, you will need to properly format your citations using MLA or APA style. Help is available on the library website on the Research Tools page. Click “Citing Sources” in the middle of the Research Tools page (under Featured Services). The Citing Sources Guide has a variety of links that show citation examples for journal articles, web pages, books, and many other sources. As always, help is also available from the librarians or from the Speaking and Writing Center.

JFK Assassination Information

On October 26, the National Archives will release classified documents about the John F. Kennedy assassination. Kennedy, the 35th president of the United States, was assassinated on November 22, 1963, in Dallas, Texas.

The library has these books and eBooks about the assassination.

The Assassination of John F. Kennedy: A Complete Book of Facts by James P. Duffy and Vincent L. Ricci (1992)

Bloody Treason: On Solving History’s Greatest Murder Mystery, the Assassination of John F. Kennedy by Noel Twyman (1997)

Where Were You? America Remembers the JFK Assassination compiled and edited by Gus Russo and Harry Moses; foreword by Tom Brokaw (2016)

“The President Has Been Shot!” The Assassination of John F. Kennedy by James L. Swanson (eBook and eAudiobook, 2016)

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