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Posts by Brooke Watkins

Joe Miller's Groaners: Historical Joke Books in the Research Collections

In anticipation of April Fools’ Day, I’ve been digging around the research collection’s historical joke books, in search of a good joke. Pity the poor sod who goes searching for funny jokes inside a joke book, right? Well, historically speaking, I’m not alone in this endeavor, and people have long sought to collect jokes and to find them, which is why NYPL owns hundreds of joke books that span basically the history of civilization.Read More ›

Roz Chast Explains the Universe

Last month, when researchers at the Large Hadron Collider discovered a particle that behaved suspiciously like the Higgs boson, the theoretical particle that helps explain the existence of matter in the universe, I immediately thought of Roz Chast.

You know, the New Yorker cartoonist? The one so good at drawing wallpaper? And lamps? And little things?

Chast is no particle theorist, but she has published in the periodicals Scientific American and

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"It Was a Very Good Year": One Librarian's Fiction Recommendations for 2011

2011 was a great year for fiction — novels and short story collections alike. Many “Best of” lists published so far are spot-on, but let's face it: although literature has some notable guidelines for what makes it “good,” individual taste still has a lot do with it. Below are the page-turning titles that had me staying up late, avoiding chores, not looking at Facebook, and inspiring that splendid submergence in a story that never, ever gets old. In fact, the older I get, the closer I come to sprouting a third eye just so I can read 

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Ebooks: Putting the "E" in Free

A friend of mine has recently taken to reading Moby Dick on her phone, using the Kindle for Android app. Although I like to make fun of her for reading such a formidable book on a tiny screen, she is adamant that her method is much less intimidating, because she doesn’t have to 1) lug the book around, or 2) face its visible girth, taunting her daily with unread pages. No matter your feelings on print v. electronic books, the classics, as well as the not-so-classics, are on the Web and ready to download to your computer and portable e-reading device for free.  

1923 is 

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Calling all researchers - Zotero may be just what you need!

Whether you’re in the midst of researching or writing your project, the free bibliographic management tool Zotero could save you A LOT of time. Join me for an introductory workshop on this free Firefox plug-in that helps you gather, manage, analyze, and share your resources. Learn the basic functionality of the program as well as how to integrate your Zotero library with word-processing software for footnotes and bibliographies -- Yes, you can change the citation style of your book or dissertation from Chicago to APA with the click of a button!


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Download with Confidence at the New York Public Library

Interested in learning how to take advantage of NYPL’s vast collection of downloadable ebooks, audiobooks, music, and movies? Join us tomorrow for a basic tutorial in maneuvering file formats, digital rights management, and your devices. Learn how to download media files from our web site onto your computer, and get the most out of your library card from the comfort of your own home. Bring your library card along for some hands-on training! When: Thursday, October 7, 2010 @ 4:15 pm Where: Stephen A. Schwarzman Building, South Court Classrooms

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The Names of Things: Visual Dictionaries Are for Adults, too

Have you ever encountered an entirely new landscape or situation and simultaneously noticed that you don’t have the words to describe it or to ask questions about it? It’s not that you’ve forgotten the words or have suddenly regressed to a state of preverbal babbling, you realize, but that you’ve found a corner of experience that is still remote to you, a forest still overgrown with your own ignorance - your "unknown unknowns" have waxed into "known unknowns," and the effect has left you speechless.


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Happy All Knaves' Day

"The objective of satire," a writer once told me, "is death."

But death - especially immediate death - is never as entertaining as a good crippling.

In 1708, the Irish satirist Jonathan Swift executed a multi-part media hoax against the astrologer and almanac-maker John Partridge, and although Swift didn't kill him directly, he certainly succeeded in making, as he called it, "sin and folly bleed." Swift disliked Partridge, claiming he was a quack whose almanacs purported to scientifically predict the events of the coming year. He also 

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