Exhibition Review | A Land Beyond the Stars – Museo Galileo

Previously authored for and published by Art Libraries Society of North America (ARLIS/NA) Multimedia and Technology Reviews in February 2017.

Waldseemüller’s 1507 world map compiled geographical knowledge from Spanish and Portuguese ocean voyages. This map forms the basis for the virtual exhibition A Land Beyond the Stars, hosted by Museo Galileo of Florence, Italy in collaboration with the Library of Congress, with support from Ente Cassa di Risparmio di Firenze.

landbeyondthestars 2Even the comprehensive site map does not fully prepare the visitor for everything that is presented within this resource. Digitized maps, nautical charts, illuminated texts, and videos are all utilized to convey information in this digital exhibition. Each of the exhibit’s twelve sections could be an individual room within a museum, but the method and reach would be entirely different than its virtuality allows for, especially since the only known surviving copy of Waldseemüller’s map is currently on display at the Library of Congress. Designed for a wide audience, this website ultimately succeeds at making content accessible to any interested party, and would be of benefit to school aged students as well as scholarly researchers.

landbeyondthestars 5Digital reproductions are of impressive quality. Videos clips are all of short, reasonable lengths and can be digested with ease. Should the viewer prefer, a “Read text” option provides a full text transcript of each video. Within the “Interactive Exploration” section, translations of all text appearing on Waldseemüller’s map are given in full and divided by content type. Further, the content of the map has been broken down categorically, allowing for users wishing to engage with a particular type of geographical feature to do so.

A Land Beyond the Stars is well-produced and functions effectively. Though viewable on a mobile device, some navigation is more challenging as the viewing screen size is decreased. Developers have added full screen options, but a larger monitor will allow for the best interaction with this resource. Navigation is intuitive, using a left hand link menu, and the site map mentioned above allows for more direct access points. However, with information disseminated through various media within the site, it is at times unclear what the viewer may expect with each click, be it a video, data superimposed on the map, or another medium.

landbeyondthestars 1The stated aim of the project is “to serve as an experimental model for a new digital library concept.” While the utilized approach may serve as the basis for creating a digital library with specialized content, this particular platform was reminiscent of a HyperCard presentation from the 1990’s, albeit more technologically advanced. The ways in which the user can interact with the content are limited, making the presentation of a vast amount of well-curated historical information seem slightly flat. The exhibit is self-contained without offering links to external content, except within the “Digital Library” (bibliography) section. Unfortunately, as there is no search function, the exhibit must be accessed using the navigation menu and sitemap. Tagging or a search function would be useful to some users. However, because so much information is included, the current delivery method serves as a moderate guide for users who may not have the best idea where to find what they are seeking.

Using established technology, this exhibition is enhanced with multimedia and clearly its public visibility is greatly increased. The exhibit is certainly victorious in its efforts “to allow wider public to appreciate content contained in the map and to decipher structure and graphic symbols,” and has managed to curate content in a manner appropriate for all ages.


Book Review | Wolf Haven by Brenda Peterson & Annie Marie Musselman

wolf haven cover.jpegPartially funded by a Getty Images grant, Wolf Haven : Sanctuary and the Future of Wolves in North America‘s collaboration between photographer Annie Marie Musselman and writer Brenda Peterson yields an informative and striking book about the history and ongoing battle of North America’s endangered wolves and offers readers a comprehensive introduction to Washington’s Wolf Haven sanctuary. In addition to being a lovely coffee table photo book, scientific and political backstory are woven in to help readers understand the hot topics of the wolves endangerment and conservation efforts. Individual wolves from the sanctuary are also introduced, some with more troubled pasts than others.

Overall, this book is very well done and would be palatable to a wide range of audience. The writing is clear and easy to follow without being overly scientific or poetic. This said, a few sentences are slightly embellished and a tad flowery. Most of the photos are truly gorgeous and appropriately captioned with only a few exceptions. Wolf Haven would serve as a great introduction to anyone looking to find out more regarding the story of endangered wolves in North America. Photography fans will also not be disappointed with this gem. Check it out from a library near you.

I received this book as a Goodreads giveaway in exchange for an honest review. Thanks to the authors/publisher for participating in the giveaway.

Book Review | 100 Nature Hot Spots in Ontario by Chris Earley and Tracy C. Read

img_0335For those interested in exploring nature, be it conservation areas for flora and fauna, hiking, camping, biking, canoeing or cross county skiing, this book offers a wealth of information about places worth visiting in Ontario. Divided into geographical sections, Earley and Read give a brief history of the hot spots and their highlights. Photographs from each place are included along with general spot information about dates open and applicable activities. As the book says, it will appeal to “birders, botanists, wildlife lovers, rock hounds and naturalists”.

100 Nature Hot Spots in Ontario serves as a great introduction for parties interested in visiting wild Ontario. From seeing the Northern Lights to exploring caves or finding rare species, the authors spell out where to go and when. It would work well as a starting point for trip planning purposes or for Ontarians interested in better exploring their own province. The included photographs are very helpful to get an idea of what one might see in the named hot spot, but in some places photo quality is a bit lacking on enlargements. The book offers a wealth of information, and would be best digested in small chunks or as reference material, though it is very clearly written for all audiences. Helpful area maps are included, but the whole of Ontario with all hot spots is not. Check it out from a library near youI received this book as a Goodreads giveaway in exchange for an honest review. Thanks to the author/publisher for participating in the giveaway.

Pictorials | Photo 003: maple whirligigs


maple seeds. they’re heavy and sticky when they melt. they copter down, hence the whirligig name. a craft in grade school. something people try to prevent from growing. 2016.

Science Café | “The Science of Beer Making” with Jeff Gill

Tallgrass growlerLast night I was fortunate enough to attend a rather packed Science Café presentation at the Aggieville Radina’s Coffeehouse and Roastery on “The Science of Beer Making”. Presenter Jeff Gill is a K-State alum and the founder of Manhattan’s own Tallgrass Brewing Company. As he explained the science behind brewing and the steps involved in creating a top-notch craft beer, samples of Ethos IPA and a yet un-canned coffee stout were passed around the room while questions and answers flowed freely. The audience included students, professors and community members who all seemed to enjoy the talk. Science topics included saccharification and fermentation, information about hops, talk of yeast strains and mutations, and of course product testing. Handouts included additional information for participants to take home – one in particular a color wheel detailing flavors and possible causes. Additional events are being held at Tallgrass Brewing later this week. Tallgrass currently distributes to 13 states from North Dakota to Mississippi and their Buffalo Sweat Oatmeal Cream Stout was listed in The 11 Best Beers of the Midwest by Men’s Health Magazine.

manhattan science cafe logoScience Café was started in an effort to provide accessible and engaging conversation on a range of science topics and is sponsored by Kansas Citizens for Science and Sigma Xi: The Scientific Research Society. Next semester’s presentations will begin with the topic of Influenza and additional upcoming talks will be listed on their webpage. For additional information see Science Cafe’s National Webpage and the page for the Kansas State Chapter of Sigma Xi.

Film Review | How to Live Forever by Mark Wexler

dvd cover How to live forever by Mark WexlerThis documentary by Mark Wexler deals with the sometimes scary topic of aging. It presents people in various stages of life and interviews gerontologists, scientific researchers and others involved in final life matters. More well-known interviewees include Jack LaLanne, Ray Bradbury and Suzanne Somers. One subject nears her 114th birthday and earns a Guinness World Record. From Japan to Iceland, some of the world’s hot spots with unusually older population statistics are revealed along with possible causes for increased longevity in those areas. How to Live Forever is entertaining for adults of any age and the plethora of ideas presented from laughter theory to diet guarantees you’ll find something of interest.

What Causes it to Hail?

The solid precipitation, hail, is actually made from ice and usually forms in large thunderclouds during severe storms. Hail stones can range in size from a quarter of an inch to larger than a softball. They are created inside clouds where strong winds are present, some blowing upward so that the cooling and expansion of air occurs. The process of layering happens as freezing raindrops become ice pellets. When the wind whips those around inside the cloud, their voyage through warmer wet regions causes them to pick up an extra layer or moisture which then freezes onto the pellet in the cooler air region. More layers are formed as the hail stone continues to travel around the cloud. They eventually fall from the cloud when they become too heavy to be held up by the winds. Stronger winds inside a cloud will lead to larger hail, and larger hail usually fall at a higher speed. Hail has been known to damage automobiles, houses, and farm crops among other things.

The library has a recommended reading list on weather books for kids and also a page of water facts for adults.

Photo credit: Madison Hail by Emily Eggleston