Friday, July 29, 2011

Today in History: Lady Diana Spencer Weds Prince Charles

On July 29, 1981 the royal wedding of Prince Charles and Lady Diana Spencer took place at St. Paul's Cathedral in London. Princess Diana was a beloved figure--known for her elegance and class and her passion for charity work--who's untimely death shocked the world.

Great Britain's Diana, Princess of Wales, was married to the heir to the British throne, Charles, Prince of Wales, from 1981 to 1996. After their divorce, Diana found a positive channel for her remarkable popularity by becoming a crusader for those less fortunate than herself.

Diana Frances Spencer was born on July 1, 1961 in Norfolk to an aristocratic family. Her father, Lord Althorp, became the eighth Earl of Spencer after his father's death in 1975. Diana's title then changed to Lady Diana Spencer. Diana grew up on an estate next door to the British royal family's Sandringham retreat. She went to a preparatory school in Norfolk and to West Heath boarding school in Kent. After completing finishing school in Switzerland, Diana returned to England to live in London, where she worked as a part-time governess and nanny before becoming a kindergarten teacher's aide.

Diana met Prince Charles, who was 12 years her senior, during her childhood and began dating him in 1980. Diana's beauty and innocence captured the world's imagination in February 1981 when the two became engaged. Their extravagant wedding on July 29, 1981 at St. Paul's Cathedral was televised worldwide and was watched by an estimated 1 billion people. Diana was the first Englishwoman to marry an heir to the British throne in more than 300 years. She in turn provided heirs to the throne, giving birth to two sons, Prince William Arthur Philip Louis in June 1982 and Prince Henry Charles Albert David in September 1984.

In the beginning of her marriage, Diana appeared eager to fulfill her role as the future queen and wife of the man who would be king. By the mid-1980s, however, the couple was growing apart. They continued to make public appearances together but led increasingly separate lives. Their marriage began to crumble in 1986, when Charles allegedly renewed a relationship with a former girlfriend, Camilla Parker-Bowles. A relentless barrage of tabloid coverage made their difficulties an embarrassment to the royal family.

Buckingham Palace repeatedly denied rumors of Charles and Diana's failing marriage until 1992, when Prime Minister John Major announced to the British Parliament that the two were separating. They began a rivalry for public approval through a series of confessionals in the media that concerned Queen Elizabeth II to the point that she asked them to end their marriage. Their divorce was formally announced in July 1996. Diana lost the right to be referred to as Her Royal Highness, but she retained her title of Princess of Wales. She retained equal access with Charles to their children.

While married to Prince Charles, Diana was active in more than 100 charities and used her public popularity to draw the world's attention to the need for humanitarian efforts. She became a spokesperson for the battle against AIDS, the eradication of land mines, and the welfare of children, the sick, and the dying. She announced in December 1993 that she would reduce the extent of her public life in order to make her public role more meaningful, yet she remained involved with Centrepoint (a homeless charity), the English National Ballet, the Leprosy Mission, National AIDS Trust, the Hospital for Sick Children, and Royal Marsden Hospital. In June 1997, she auctioned off a number of her dresses and suits, with the proceeds going to various charities.

In the year before her death, Diana especially embraced the issue of land mines, actively campaigning for a ban on their manufacture and use. A cheap and effective weapon, decades of international conflict have left millions of unrecorded land mines scattered in more than 50 countries throughout the world. Extremely difficult to detect and remove, discarded land mines reportedly kill or maim one person every 20 minutes worldwide. Diana visited land mine victims in Angola in January 1997 and spoke at a land mines conference at the Royal Geographical Society in London in June. She traveled to Washington, D.C. later that month to promote the American Red Cross' land mines campaign. In August, she visited Bosnia and met with land mine projects in Travnic, Sarajevo, and Zenezica.

These humanitarian projects received an enormous amount of publicity after Diana's death in a controversial car crash in Paris on August 31, 1997. The incredible public outpouring of grief following her death reflected the affection that the people in Britain and all over the world felt for her. Her funeral was among the most-watched events in television history, and the funds generated by those touched by her death went to the charities she had donated her time to in life.

"Diana, Princess of Wales." World History: The Modern Era. ABC-CLIO, 2011. Web. 29 July 2011.


Additional Resources

By Martin Gitlin

From her aristocratic upbringing to her charitable legacy, this volume explores Lady Diana's role as a royal, a tragic figure, and a cultural icon.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Keeping Up with Reference: The True Value of a Reliable Reviewing Source

Things change quickly in the world of reference. Technology has us all wondering what the next new "thing" will be and keeping up with these changes can be a job in itself. Where we used to be concerned mainly with what new print resources were available, librarians now have to keep track of new developments in the areas of e-books, databases, and apps, and the list keeps growing. As a library's budget is cut, and oftentimes staff right along with it, librarians are forced to choose between face time with their patrons and keeping up with the latest news in the industry that will help their library run smoothly.

Now more than ever, Librarians need to turn to trusted sources to help them keep current on what new products are coming out, what updates have been made to important resources, and who's merging their resources to create bigger and better products. It all comes down to one thing: where should you spend your library's precious dollars.

In the long run, turning to a trusted reviewing source can save you time and money. Why?

1. It lets some else keep up with the swift changes in the industry. If you're like most people with a little money to spend then you are probably bombarded with advertisements, e-mail campaigns, listservs, and press releases. Countless hours can be spent pouring over these ads, hours that may very well be better spent working with patrons or creating new services for your library. A good reviewing source will continually be mining the latest products on the market and give you access to reliable information about those in one place, and in an easy-to-search format.

2. It allows you to rely on the opinion of your peers, not on the hype. It's a company's job to make you believe that their product is the "best" and they'll spare no expense to make you believe that. Your library peers, however, have a different and more valuable perspective. A good reviewing source looks to librarians working in the field, creating their own collections, to provide you with the best advice on how new reference products can be used in a library setting. Most librarians have strong opinions on what works for their patrons. Dialog between librarians should be the driving force of a professional reviewing source.

3. It will help you discover how new products in the field compare to the products your library already owns. Libraries are full of materials—print and digital. Some are well used and some, unfortunately, are not used at all. Very rarely is a new product the very first of its kind. Most products out there have strong similarities with other titles on the market. Before you are tempted to buy the latest and greatest of any new product, you should find out how it compares to other resources that your library already owns. Sometimes it will be worth the investment and other times you'll discover that what you've got is perfectly fine (or even better) than the new product with all its bells and whistles. Once again, let your peers and experts in the subject give you some advice and share their professional insight.

4. It allows you to search by the topics your library's interested in, but gives you the option to look at everything else available. It's a good bet that you know the topics your patron's are interested in and what areas of your collection need new life. A good reviewing source will save you time by providing you easy access to the latest resources in the subjects you're interested in. Keyword searching, subject headings, and the ability to limit searches by publication date all help pinpoint your research and save you time in the long run. However, even though you have specific subjects you're interested in it's always nice to have the option to search other topics. A good reviewing source will allow you to limit your searches, but be comprehensive enough that you can find things you never even knew were out there.

There are several strong reference reviewing sources on the market. American Reference Books Annual, which has been published by Libraries Unlimited for over 40 years, offers all of the benefits of a reviewing source listed above—critical reviews that offer strong comparisons between like sources, reviews written by professionals within the field, and a comprehensive look at all resources on the market today. Used diligently, a top-notch reviewing source can save your library money in the long run by helping you pick the best resources for your library while also allowing you to do your job more effectively and efficiently.

-- Shannon Graff Hysell
Shannon Graff Hysell has been editor of American Reference Books Annual for the past ten years. She is also editor of Recommended Reference Books for Small and Medium-sized Libraries and Media Centers and ARBAonline.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Today in History: Neil Armstrong Walks on Moon

Neil Armstrong became an astronaut in the early days of the U.S. space program. He was selected as commander of Apollo 11, the first moon-landing expedition. Armstrong became the first person to walk on the moon on July 20, 1969.

Armstrong was born on August 5, 1930 in Wapakoneta, Ohio. He spent his childhood there before attending college at Purdue University in Indiana, where he earned a degree in aerospace engineering. Immediately after graduating, Armstrong enlisted as a navy fighter pilot and served during the Korean War. On returning to civilian life in 1952, he became a test pilot.

Armstrong's life was soon redirected by the entry of the United States into a space race with its cold war rival, the Soviet Union. In 1957, the Soviets successfully launched the first man-made satellite, Sputnik, into orbit. Americans became fearful of Soviet superiority in space, and determined not to give the Soviets the upper hand in any arena, the United States pursued its space program in earnest. The Russians became the first to launch a person into space early in 1961.

In May of the same year, Alan Shepard became the first American man in space, and shortly after his flight, President John F. Kennedy challenged the United States to put a man on the moon before the end of the decade. Armstrong was selected to be an astronaut in 1962 with other talented test pilots. In 1966, he made his first space flight aboard Gemini 8. During that flight, he and fellow astronaut David Scott carried out the first docking maneuvers between two spacecrafts. Armstrong was among the astronauts chosen for the National Aeronautics and Space Administration's (NASA) next series of space missions, Apollo, which were intended to reach the moon. The ambitious program began in tragedy. On January 27, 1967, the Apollo 1 astronauts—Gus Grissom, Ed White, and Roger Chaffee—were killed by a fire that broke out in their space capsule during a test launch.

Only two years after the disaster, NASA met Kennedy's challenge to put a man on the moon with Apollo 11. The moon landing also put the United States firmly ahead of the Soviets in the space race. Armstrong, the mission's commander, Buzz Aldrin, and Michael Collins landed their lunar module on the moon on July 20, 1969. While the world watched on television, Armstrong, followed by Aldrin, descended from the craft to walk on the moon. As Armstrong made his descent he uttered the now famous phrase: "That's one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind." The two men spent the next two hours exploring the lava plains of the Sea of Tranquility and collecting samples of lunar dust.

Armstrong left NASA in 1971, a year after publishing a book on his experiences in space, First On the Moon. He settled on a farm in his home state of Ohio with his wife and two children. From 1971 until 1979, Armstrong taught aerospace engineering, in which he holds a master's degree, at Cincinnati University. He briefly appeared in commercials as a spokesperson for Chrysler. He is currently the chairperson of a defense electronics firm in Ohio. Though Armstrong has led a purposefully private life since leaving NASA, he made several appearances in July 1994 to celebrate the 25th anniversary of Apollo 11's moon landing, including an appearance with President Bill Clinton and his fellow Apollo 11 astronauts at the White House.

"Neil Armstrong." American History. ABC-CLIO, 2011. Web. 20 July 2011.

Additional Resources:

History Committee of the American Astronautical Society
A complete history of human endeavors in space, this book also moves beyond the traditional topics of human spaceflight, space technology, and space science to include political, social, cultural, and economic issues, and also commercial, civilian, and military applications.


Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Casey Anthony: The First"Trial of the Century"of the Social-Media Age

The Casey Anthony trial will be remembered as the first “Trial of the Century” for the social-media age. In the summer of 2008, Casey Anthony, a single mother from Orlando, Florida, was accused of murdering her two-year-old daughter, Caylee, after failing to report that she had been missing for 31 days. After the skeletal remains of Caylee Anthony were discovered in a wooded area near Casey Anthony’s home, prosecutors indicted Anthony on first-degree murder charges (as well as lesser charges) and sought the death penalty.
The murder trial began on May 24, 2011, captivating audiences across the globe as viewers became intrigued with details sensationalized through social-media websites and such television news programs as "Nancy Grace." Prosecutors argued that Casey Anthony murdered her two-year-old child to allow more opportunity for her to live a free lifestyle of partying. In fact, Anthony had partied consistently during the 31 days when her daughter was missing. Prosecutors also used forensic evidence to argue that the trunk of Casey Anthony’s automobile had contained chemicals and hair roots consistent with the decomposition of human remains. In addition, Anthony had allegedly searched a home computer for information about “chloroform,” “neck breaking,” and “death.”

While a large majority of the case's followers were convinced of Casey Anthony’s guilt and discussed it publicly via social media, a jury of seven women and five men nonetheless acquitted Anthony of the more serious charges on July 5, 2011. Anthony was found not guilty of first-degree murder, aggravated manslaughter, and aggravated child abuse but she was convicted on four misdemeanor counts of lying to law enforcement. While the jurors believed that Anthony was somehow involved in the death of her daughter, they maintained that the prosecution’s case lacked direct evidence that a murder had been committed. Judge Belvin Perry, who presided over the trial, sentenced Casey Anthony to four years in jail and $4,000 in fines for the misdemeanor convictions. However, Anthony was awarded three years credit for time served as well as further credit for good behavior and was released from prison on Sunday, July 17, 2011.

—Dr. Scott P. Johnson


Dr. Scott P. Johnson's Trials of the Century: An Encyclopedia of Popular Culture and the Law explores five centuries of legal history by examining famous murder trials as well as historic trials that changed the political, legal, religious, social, and racial landscape of America from the 1690s through today.

Friday, July 15, 2011

Arlene Taylor Receives Distinguished Alumnus Award

We extend our hearty congratulations to Libraries Unlimited author Arlene Taylor, for being recognized as an outstanding alumna from her alma mater, the University of Illinois.

Over the extent of her career, Dr. Taylor has taught at the University of Chicago, Columbia University, and the University of Pittsburgh. Countless library students, including such luminaries as Linda Smith, editor of Reference and Information Services: An Introduction, Fourth Edition have learned the refined skills of cataloging from her. Countless others have learned from her textbooks, Introduction to Cataloging and Classification,  now in its tenth edition and her ground-breaking Organization of Information. In addition, Dr. Taylor has mentored many doctoral students who are following in her footsteps; one is co-authoring Taylor's next edition of her cataloging textbook. Congratulations, Arlene! The recognition is well-deserved!

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Today in History: Bastille Day

La Fete Nationale (Bastille Day)

Held every year on July 14, this is France's most important national holiday. The event marks the day in 1789 that Parisian mobs stormed the massive Bastille—a notorious prison and symbol of the excesses of French aristocracy—the act that inspired most of the nation's people to join the French Revolution. The French view the storming of the Bastille as an emblem of French independence and they honor the day with a national holiday, which they celebrate with parades, parties, and fireworks.

The Bastille was a medieval fortress in Paris, France that was used as a prison in the 18th century. As an act signifying the rebellion of the people against the injustices of the ancien régime (French for "former regime"), on July 14, 1789, a crowd stormed the Bastille, freed the prisoners, and destroyed the fortress.

"Bastille." World History: The Modern Era. ABC-CLIO, 2011. Web. 14 July 2011.
"France: Food and Holidays." World Geography: Understanding a Changing World. ABC-CLIO, 2011. Web. 14 July 2011.


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Tuesday, July 12, 2011

President Obama Awards Increasingly Rare Medal of Honor

When Sgt. First Class Leroy Petry receives the Medal of Honor today from President Barack Obama at a White House ceremony, he will become only the ninth recipient of the nation's highest military decoration for actions in Afghanistan or Iraq. The award of the Medal of Honor has been exceedingly rare for conflicts since the end of the Vietnam War. There were no awards of the Medal of Honor during Grenada, Panama, Lebanon, or Desert Storm. Two Medals of Honor were awarded for action in Mogadishu, Somalia, in 1993. Of the nine recipients awarded the honor in the 21st century, seven of them received it posthumously. Besides Petry, the other recent recipient who lived to receive the award in person was Staff Sgt. Salvatore Giunta, who was honored last year by Obama, also for heroic actions in Afghanistan. 

To learn more about some of the most famous and heroic Medal of Honor recipients in our nation's history, check out ABC-CLIO's America's Heroes: Medal of Honor Recipients from the Civil War to Afghanistan. This book features the stories of 200 heroic individuals awarded the Medal of Honor for their distinguished military service while fighting for their country, from the Civil War to the conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan.

- Pat Carlin, Manager, Editorial Development for Military History, ABC-CLIO

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

History Today: Richard the Lionhearted

Over 800 years ago, on July 6, 1189, Richard the Lionheart inherited the throne of England following the death of his father, King Henry II.

A member of the Angevin, or Plantagenet, dynasty of kings, Richard the Lionhearted ruled as king of England from 1189 to 1199. An ambitious and brutal military leader, he was also known as Richard I, and in France as Richard Coeur de Lion.

Born in Oxford, England on September 8, 1157, Richard was the third son of England's King Henry II and Eleanor of Aquitaine. As third born, he was not expected to succeed his father as king. [...] When his older brother Henry was named as his father's successor, Richard was given the duchy of Aquitaine in 1168, as well as the duchy of Poitiers in 1172. A well-educated young man, Richard was also noted early on for his military and political abilities, which he utilized well in protecting and controlling his territories.

In 1173, Richard joined with two of his brothers—Henry, heir to the English throne, and Geoffrey, duke of Brittany—in an ill-fated revolt against their father. They planned to overthrow him and immediately install the younger Henry as king. In response, Henry II launched two separate invasions of Aquitaine [...] Finally, in 1174, Richard submitted to his father, humbly swearing a new vow of subservience to king's authority.

Following this defeat, Richard concentrated on suppressing a rebellion of nobles in Aquitaine [...] The death of the younger Henry later that year ended the fighting, with Richard retaining control over his territories. Henry's passing also left in question who would succeed Henry II as king of England, but the death of Geoffrey in 1186 solidified Richard's position as the likely heir to the thrones of England, Normandy, and Anjou.

In 1188, King Henry II declared his plans to give the duchy of Aquitaine to his youngest son John (later King John of England). This so angered Richard that he negotiated an agreement with King Philip II Augustus of France by which Richard would concede both Anjou and Normandy to Philip in exchange for France's help in overthrowing Henry. The plan was successful, and King Henry was forced to name Richard as his heir just before dying in July 1189. Richard was crowned as duke of Normandy, count of Anjou, and king of England on September 3, 1189 in Westminster Abbey.

Soon after becoming king, Richard joined the Third Crusade to reconquer Palestine and Jerusalem from Muslim leader Saladin and the Seljuk Turks. Richard concentrated on amassing troops and funding for the battle, raising taxes, emptying the treasury, and selling official government positions as well as lands and properties. In order to defend his territories against any French invasions during his absence, Richard persuaded Philip to enlist in the crusade as well. The last major monarch to join the Christian campaign was German king and Holy Roman emperor Frederick I Barbarossa, making the crusade the most ambitious European effort to retake the Christian holy lands. [...] En route to the Middle East, Frederick drowned, and the German forces by and large quietly returned home.

Traveling by sea to Palestine, Richard, Philip, and their armies stopped briefly in Sicily in 1190, where they became involved in a dispute with the newly crowned King Tancred. Tancred had imprisoned Richard's sister Joan, the widow of Tancred's predecessor, King William II. Following a revolt in Messina, Richard and Phillip captured and looted that city and forced Tancred into a treaty. The agreement promised that Joan would be released and financially compensated in exchange for the recognition of Tancred as Sicily's rightful king. In addition, Richard was to name his nephew, Arthur of Brittany—Geoffrey's son—as his heir, which infuriated his younger brother John, who had hoped to become his older brother's successor as king.

The crusaders left Sicily in the spring of 1191, only to be stopped on the island of Cyprus because of bad weather. There, they captured the port city of Limassol, before waging war against the island's despotic leader and installing Richard as the new ruler of Cyprus. After looting the island and murdering those who resisted him, Richard staged his wedding to Princess Berengaria of Navarre in the city of Lemesos. Following the event, he departed once again for Palestine.

The crusaders finally arrived in Palestine in June 1191 and quickly captured the port city of Acre. When Richard and Philip's demands for a ransom went unmet, they massacred 3,000 of Acre's inhabitants. Richard then marched his armies south toward Jerusalem, battling Saladin's troops along the way. Meanwhile, Philip and the French crusaders deserted him; Philip formed an alliance with Richard's brother John in a plot to seize Richard's French territories and overthrow his rule in England. Richard remained in Palestine, fighting Saladin's men, but he was unable to capture Jerusalem. Finally, Richard negotiated a treaty by which the city would remain under Saladin's rule, but Christian pilgrims would be permitted to visit the city's important holy sites. The crusade thus ended with the establishment of a small Latin kingdom on the coast and Jerusalem remaining in the hands of the Muslim forces.

In 1192, Richard commenced his journey home. He was captured, however, by King Leopold V of Austria. Leopold imprisoned Richard in the castle at Durnstein. He was supposedly freed following the legendary discovery of his location by the troubadour Blondel de Nesle, only to be again taken prisoner by Holy Roman emperor Henry VI. Henry then ransomed his life to England for an enormous fortune as well as suzerainty of his kingdom. Richard finally reached England in 1194, suppressing a rebellion against him by his brother John, before traveling to France to fight Philip. Richard spent the next five years battling in defense of his French territories.

Richard died on April 6, 1199 from a wound he received during the minor battle of Chalus in France. He was interred alongside his parents at the Fontevrault Abbey in Anjou, France. His brother succeeded him as King John of England.


"Richard the Lionhearted." World History: Ancient and Medieval Eras. ABC-CLIO, 2011. Web. 6 July 2011.

World History: Ancient and Medieval Eras
This database for middle and high schools covers early human history around the globe—from prehistoric times to the beginnings of the Renaissance.