Not Just Christmas and Hanukkah

Certainly, Christmas and Hanukkah are not the only well known holidays taking place in December. The month has been a time for celebration throughout history, as far back as the origins of Buddhism and the ancient Roman Empire. Bodhi Day, traditionally celebrated on December 8th, celebrates the enlightenment of Siddhartha Gautama, the originator of Buddhism. Celebrations […]

Hard-boiled and Noir Fiction and Film

Travelling through fetid alleyways in the pouring rain, through thronging cities like beating hearts, and darkened rooms echoing gunshots and last breaths, the fiction and film of the hard-boiled and noir genres bring readers and viewers along for vivid, engrossing, sensual experiences that earlier mysteries neglected in favor of purely intellectual exercises. Often used interchangeably, […]

The Dog Days of Summer

Is this Baltimore summer hot enough for you? You might say we have hit the heart of the “dog days” of summer. You might also wonder where the heck that phrase comes from! It turns out, the origin of the “dog days” of summer is far older and far more interesting than you might have […]

Sign Here!

Did you ever wonder why signatures and autographs carry the enormous weight they do? The history of this fancy of finger-work, this veritable cult of calligraphy is long and varied. Ever since humans fixed words to a medium, signatures of some sort have existed. Residents of the Arabian peninsula used cylinder seals to authenticate, certify, and witness […]

Spring DIY

At long last the snows have cleared and Spring is upon us. What better time to get back to the earth, get your hands dirty, and DoItYourself? Our country has, in some way or another, been a DIY nation since its early days. Be it gardening, cooking, distilling, or dressmaking, early Americans made and did […]

Catalog This!

Ever wonder what happens behind the scenes to make library materials accessible to the public (that’s you!)? After books are selected and ordered, Cataloging staff work their magic to let you know what we’ve got. The word cataloging itself conjures images of card catalogs, book carts, and Dewey Decimal numbers, and while both of those […]

The Game is Afoot!

Unless you’ve been living under a rock that’s beneath a few more rocks, you’ve doubtless come across the revamped BBC/PBS production of Sherlock. Countless fans have had to wait countless months between seasons that count a mere three episodes each. The popularity of Sherlock the TV series and the numerous adaptations, homages, and spoofs speak […]

The Days That Never Were

Two hundred sixty one years ago today, nothing happened. The newspapers would have been blank. No sun shone and no cloud stirred. No wars were fought and no treaties signed. No one awoke and no one slept. No one was born and no one died. Had Twitter existed, not a single tweet would have been sent. […]

In Celebration of Dictionaries

Depression, murder, insanity….not the first words that come to mind when contemplating lexicography. Nevertheless, such is the history of English dictionaries. The stories of Samuel Johnson, James Murray and W.C. Minor make for a fascinating historical read. Dictionaries in their broadest understanding go back as far as 2300 BC with Sumerian-Akkadian wordlists from the Akkadian […]

Overlooked Genius

Just over a month ago, a number of scholars, researchers, writers and countries were acknowledged for their contributions to their various fields with the award of the Nobel Prize. Throughout its history, the Nobel Prize has been surrounded by various controversies regarding significant achievement going unrecognized. Perhaps one of the most glaring oversights of the […]