Know Your NOAA!

NOAA Research Vessel Okeanos Explorer Photo Credit: Allen Shimada, NOAA/NMFS/OST, via the NOAA Photo Library

Written by Meghan Campbell, Government Publications

Through the U.S. Department of Commerce, NOAA or the National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration, is an amalgamation of a few different government agencies created in 1970. Though its name might be self-explanatory, NOAA exists to observe and protect the interests of our world at large via the earth’s oceans and its atmosphere. Its scientists and personnel cover a multitude of different areas of the planet and its natural relationships to us. Weather warning systems, discovering new ocean creatures, and protecting marine sanctuaries is only a small portion of what makes up NOAA’s work. 

One of NOAA’s more notable contributions is in research; specifically that of the global deep seas. NOAA Ship Okeanos Explorer, (named after the Greek titan Okeanos), is a research vessel that conducts frequent and enlightening ventures that seek to discover new marine habitats, species, and find new evidence to build upon previous research. The Okeanos’ expeditions to the deep sea has yielded some pretty spectacular imagery from around the world, with a lot of it being in our own backyard! From sea star fights, shrimp battles, and even sea toads, the NOAA Ocean Explorer Youtube channel regularly broadcasts live and also edited clips of some of the footage that has been captured under the surface of the water. 

To quell the curiosity of various subjects between marine life, water cycles, weather, and more, NOAA also has a dedicated resource collection on their website. These brief but informative guides help cover basics for differing subject areas for anyone who wants to know more. In addition to these guides, there is also a section for an elementary audience as well as other resources for educators. 

NOAA provides great kid-friendly resources for younger ages to enjoy and learn from. A Good Catch: Managing Fisheries to Meet the Nation’s Demand for Seafood, is a beautifully illustrated and well-told book that explains the varying facets of ocean fishing and how NOAA contributes to help maintain a healthy ocean. With brief but informative sections from phytoplankton to fish farming, “A Good Catch”  proves to be a wonderful free resource and also serves as an example of what kind of documents are hosted through the NOAA Institutional Repository. The repository hosts many different NOAA publications and documents, including peer-reviewed articles, which makes it another great portal of information for research. The repository can also be supplemented with the NOAA Photo Library, which contains collections of photos that were taken only by NOAA employees.

Other additions that can educate younger audiences are that of a kid’s activity book; made for kindergarten to third graders, it contains facts, crossword puzzles, and even drawing activities to help them become “Official Ocean Guardians”.  To shake things up, NOAA has even put out a great video titled: The Octonauts & NOAA Ship Okeanos Explorer, which gives a fantastic inside look at the research vessel guided by a host and the ship’s crew! 

 

Chincoteague Bay Wetlands Photo Credit: Captain Albert E. Theberge, NOAA Corps (ret.), via the NOAA Photo Library

America’s Wondrous Wetlands: A Quick Overview of Government Resources

Written by Benjamin Clanton, Government Publications

One of the greatest things about the United States is the richness of its physical landscape and environment, which many of us constantly interact with throughout our lives. Wetlands are an integral part of this intricate network, coming in many different forms and serving a myriad of purposes in maintaining a healthy ecosystem. The Clean Water Act defines wetlands as “areas that are inundated or saturated by surface or ground water at a frequency and duration sufficient to support, and that under normal circumstances do support, a prevalence of vegetation typically adapted for life in saturated soil conditions. Wetlands generally include swamps, marshes, bogs, and similar areas.” This in turns provides guidance to a number of federal agencies, such as the Environmental Protection Agency, the Army Corps of Engineers, and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service in identifying and properly protecting these delicate areas.

The modern world can often be harsh on the wetlands of the United States. They provide homes to a wide variety of plant and animal life, along with migratory waystations for numerous bird species. Wetlands also serve as an integral part of a larger system of waterways, as they often provide relief during floods as temporary reservoirs and are able to help remove toxins from the waters that pass through them. However, human encroachment from things such as development and farming can cause irreparable damage to these habitats. Other threats that are mostly unpredictable include climate change and manmade disasters. A horrific example of the latter that affected this region was the 2010 Deepwater Horizon explosion, which caused millions of gallons of oil to dump into the Gulf of Mexico, doing immeasurable harm to wetlands in Louisiana and other areas of the Gulf coast.

For these reasons, it is vital that federal agencies continue to work closely with state and local governments to protect our nation’s wetland areas. Native American Tribal governments take an integral leadership role in this effort, working in conjunction with these organizations to preserve these landscapes that are so important to our environment’s continued survival. Here are a number of government resources that will help you gain further knowledge on these ongoing projects.

Videos

NOAA Fisheries – Huntington Beach (CA) Wetland Restoration

EPA – Wetlands and Wonder

Bill Nye the Science Guy – Wetlands (Not a government resource, but fun nonetheless!)

Agency Websites

U.S. Army Corps of Engineers – National Wetland Plant List

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Services – National Wetlands Inventory

Fish and Wildlife Services – Working with Native American Tribes

EPA – Wetlands Protection and Restoration

NOAA Fisheries – Five Reasons We Love Wetlands

Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation – Wetlands

McWherter Government Publications eResources

Saving the Nation’s Wetlands

Wetlands: An Overview of the Issues

Wild About Wetlands *kid friendly*

Restoring America’s Wetlands

America’s Gulf Coast: A Long Term Recovery Plan After the Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill

 

Thirty Years of the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990

 

President George H.W. Bush signs the Americans with Disabilities Act
President George H.W. Bush signs the Americans with Disabilities Act July 26th, 1990. Photo courtesy of the National Archives Flickr

Written by Lauren Gilbreth, Government Publications 

On July 26, 1990, the Americans with Disabilities Act was signed into law by President George H.W. Bush; this year marks the thirtieth anniversary of its passing. The ADA was and is a landmark piece of civil rights legislation, meant to protect people with disabilities from discrimination and provide them with greater access to public life. Divided into five titles, the first four each address a different area of public life covered by the Act: employment, state and local government, public accommodations, and telecommunications.  The ADA slowly went into effect over the course of the four years following its passing, with full compliance expected by the end of 1994.

The institution of the Americans with Disabilities Act was not welcomed by everyone. Numerous court cases challenged the new regulations required, including a set of Supreme Court cases known as the Sutton Trilogy. The Sutton cases resulted in a narrower definition of disability than the one provided in the initial act, which in turn limited the number of people protected by the ADA. A later Supreme Court Case, Toyota Motor Manufacturing v Williams, further limited the protections provided by the Act by once again pushing for a narrower definition of disability.

These Supreme Court Cases, as well as other issues, eventually resulted in the ADA Amendments Act, signed into law in 2008 by President George W. Bush. The Amendments Act expanded the legal definition of disability and provided broader protections against discrimination. While the 2008 Amendment was the most major change to the Act since it was passed, there have been several updates and additions in the past decade and a half, adapting it to changing times and technologies.

The full text of the act is available through the University of Memphis Libraries (https://sierra.memphis.edu/record=b2409512~S5).  Numerous government publications connected to the ADA are also available from the Libraries, ranging from congressional hearings concerning aspects of the act to a guide to writing an accommodation request letter. Many of these resources are highlighted in the ADA Awareness Virtual Book Display: https://libguides.memphis.edu/virtual-book-display. If you’re interested in exploring the ADA, its history, and its applications further, the following links should also be useful:

The National Park Service and Accessibility: Change for All

Written by Benjamin Clanton, Government Publications

A man in his off-road wheelchair enjoying Yellowstone National Park. Photo courtesy of the National Park Service/Jacob W. Frank Flickr

The National Park Service lists the Americans with Disabilities Act as one of its guiding principles in its continued efforts to make parks around the country more accessible to all visitors. On their website, the NPS outlines their efforts at compliance with the commercial section of the Act, stating that “accessibility law prohibits discrimination and guarantees that people with disabilities have the same opportunities as everyone else to participate in the mainstream of American life.” In 2012, a task force was created to fully realize accessibility goals that dated back to 1961 and have continued up through today; the task force admitted that the National Park Service has not done enough in the past to assure that visitors with disabilities could fully enjoy what their parks had to offer. In a document titled All In! Accessibility in the National Park Service 2015-2020, it outlined a 5 year strategic plan to enact widespread improvements to National Parks and create a “cultural shift” that would stretch well beyond 2020. The Task Force expressed the following at the beginning of this process: “Barriers to National Park Service facilities and programs deny visitors with disabilities the opportunity to experience their parks, and our ability to share America’s stories with all visitors. While notable advancements have been made, much is needed to break down the barriers and embrace greater inclusivity.”

The NPS has also created an interpretative Disability History Series for those interested in the long path towards the ADA and wider accessibility in our society, which you can view here. Finally, the Government Publications collection at McWherter Library contains material on individual parks printed in braille for visitors with low sight or blindness; these materials are created at the Harpers Ferry Center for Media Services, and you can further explore its role in the National Park Service’s goals toward greater accessibility here. It will be interesting to observe the NPS as it continues to strive towards making its parks, one of our nation’s great resources in education and recreation, more accessible and inclusive to all potential visitors.

Additional ADA Government Resources

Written by Meghan Campbell, Government Publications 

To support the ADA, many federal agencies have adopted their own policies to help accommodate those who need it. Agencies such as the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), for example, have an extensive list of accessibility guides. These guides range from services such as “711 for Telecommunications Relay”, Closed Captioning (for a variety of different formats), to “Speech-to-Speech Relay” services.

Even with these protocols in place though, no system is perfect, and that is where the Government Accountability Office (GAO) comes in. In 2015, the GAO submitted a report titled: “Accessible Communications : FCC should evaluate the effectiveness of its public outreach efforts”. This report provided an evaluation, encouraging the FCC to consider their outreach endeavors and how it affects their accessibility programs. These types of inquiries and evaluations ensure that protocols and services are constantly being updated and improved.

In addition to the FCC, the Department of Justice (DOJ) has their own ways of contributing to the ADA. In their recent publication “Beyond the Cases: 26 Years of the Americans with Disabilities Act”, the DOJ features stories from around the country and how the ADA has affected change. From transportation, voting, accessible technology, and other areas of everyday life, the DOJ highlights ways the DOJ has helped contribute to the enforcement of the ADA.

Alongside these other agencies, Access Board (also known as the Architectural and Transportation Barriers Compliance Board) is an independent federal agency that helps develop (in their own words from their “About” page): “accessible design” and “accessibility guidelines and standards”. Since 1973, Access Board has provided guidance in assuring that facilities such as recreational areas, buildings, sidewalks, and even medical equipment is ADA compliant and is accessible for all. To celebrate the 30 anniversary of the ADA, Access Board is hosting a virtual celebration via Zoom, open to the public. Details can be found here.

 

Ringu: A Horror Movie Review

Horror fans and movie buffs alike are likely to have come across or know of The Ring (2002), but not all know that it is a remake of a Japanese horror film by the same name. Ringu (1998)  (also known in English as Ring) is a Japanese film based off of the book series of the same name by Koji Suzuki.  

If you aren’t aware of the story, it’s simple:

You watch a cursed video tape, you get a creepy phone call from the spirit of a dead girl saying you will die in seven days, and in most cases, that’s exactly what happens. 

A journalist named Reiko Asakawa (played by Nanako Matsushima) and her clairvoyant ex-husband Ryuji Takayama (Hiroyuki Sanada) discover the cursed tape. The one integral thing they have to bear in mind? If they don’t figure out where the tape came from, Asakawa, Takayama, and their son will all die within a week.

As a film, it’s a pretty solid example of what the horror genre should truly be. It’s engrossing and builds the right amounts of tension and suspense as the two main characters try to uncover the mystery behind a cursed video and who exactly created it and for what purpose. The tone throughout the whole movie is solidly tense and never really gives the audience member room to breathe. The opening scene is a good example of this, with two teenage girls gossiping and discussing local lore only to have their innocent conversation shift to one of seriousness as soon as the phone rings. Shifts like this occur frequently throughout the film, keeping the viewer on their toes. That acts as a far better tool to elicit fear or unease than a jump scare. 

That being said, Ringu is a good horror movie with a great story and is an enjoyable weekend film. To make your viewing even more enjoyable, pair and compare with the American remake The Ring, which is a much more stylized and eerie version than its Japanese counterpart.  Though be careful, if you watch both of these movies you may feel the urge to unplug your television. Don’t know what I mean by that? After you see the first twenty minutes of Ringu, you’ll know.

Watch it on Kanopy today!

The Inventor: A Kanopy Documentary Review

If you’re looking for an interesting documentary to break through the quarantine boredom, why not utilize Kanopy? As Ben has mentioned in his most recent blog post, Kanopy is a great resource for any presently-affiliated  UM persons and completely free. So what better way to kill some time than by giving The Inventor: Out for Blood in Silicon Valley a view? 

Directed by Alex Gibney, “The Inventor”, outlines the intense rise to success and chaotic decline of now inoperative health technology company Theranos. Theranos, the brainchild of Stanford drop-out Elizabeth Holmes, was touted as the answer to a world where big needles and diagnostic companies stand as the only way to efficiently collect and test blood samples. Created out of Holmes’ fear of needles, Theranos’ claim to fame was a machine called “The Edison”, or miniLab. From this machine, blood from a single finger prick could be collected in a vial called the “Nanotainer” (another Theranos creation), and run within The Edison. Theranos then claimed that they could produce a variety of results from this incredibly small sample; a feat only previously managed by industry standard blood tests. 

The problem was that Holmes kept many secrets as CEO and founder of Theranos. One of the biggest secrets was that her prized invention, The Edison, didn’t exactly work. Though, she wouldn’t tell any of her investors, or customers, that fact. 

“The Inventor” is a companion piece to John Carreyrou’s book Bad Blood: Secrets and Lies in a Silicon Valley Startup  (which we have in the library for your reading pleasure). Carreyrou, a reporter for The Wall Street Journal was not the first to write about Theranos and its issues, but he wrote a comprehensive and explosive article that brought the nation’s attention to Holmes and her problematic promises. 

I won’t spoil all of the documentary for you, but do know that The Inventor: Our for Blood in Silicon Valley is an interesting, informative, and attention-grabbing documentary that illustrates how a billion dollar health tech corporation was able to go from notable to notorious in just a few short years. 

Watch it tonight on Kanopy, or check-out John Carreyrou’s book for an in-depth read. 

Happy Benjamin Franklin Day!

GPO’s “Ben’s Guide” Ben!

On this day in 1706 in Boston, Massachusetts, Benjamin Franklin was born. Franklin was, and still remains as one of our nation’s most notable and foundational figures who contributed to the successes of America while it was in its infancy.   He was a renaissance man; an inventor who sought solutions to many problems, and chased great ideas all throughout his lifetime. Today is his 314th birthday, and as a tribute, Government Publications wanted to share a small offering of resources that reflect his own work, and talks about the man himself.

The Government Publishing Office (GPO), has used Ben’s likeness for quite some time in the form of “Ben’s Guides”. Found here, it’s a resource available to anyone, and it’s a great place to learn or refresh your memory of facts relating to the United States Government, with Franklin as your personal guide. Suitable for ages of all kind, Ben’s Guide makes for an eye-catching, and interactive resource for classrooms and personal use.

If a biography is what you’re looking for, Life of Franklin is another great resource to pour over for information about the personal life of the Founding Father.

One more fabulous resource is Poor Richard’s Almanack, written by Franklin himself. Gov. Pub’s very own Benjamin has his own words to share on this publication!

Ben Franklin’s Literary Legacy
Written by Benjamin Clanton, Government Publications

Benjamin Franklin, along with other historical giants such as George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, and Alexander Hamilton, is often considered one of our nation’s more important Founding Fathers. Continue reading

Exploring Government Publications for Native American Heritage Month

In honor of Native American Heritage Month, we here at Government Publications wanted to take some time to showcase a few documents pertaining to Native American culture. All of these items are currently available for check-out and can be found here in McWherter Library in the Government Publications department!

Written by Benjamin Clanton:

  1. The Smithsonian Institute and the Handbook of North American Indians

The Smithsonian Institute has provided a rich variety of resources that would be helpful in the historical and anthropological study of Native American tribes in North America. Perhaps the best example of their work is the Handbook of North American Indians, a multivolume encyclopedia covering a myriad of topics and fields of study. Spearheaded by ethnologist and anthropologist William Sturtevant, this proposed 20 volume work began publication in 1978 as a hope to replace other outdated studies. Sadly, the project has yet to reach completion, due largely to the combination of funding issues and the death of Sturtevant in 2007. Nonetheless, this exhaustive synthesis of Native American studies is an impressive collaboration between renowned historians, anthropologists, and linguists, among others. Growing up in Mississippi, I have always had an interest in the tribes of the Southeast such as the Choctaw, Creek, and Cherokee; this made Volume 14 on North America’s Southeast region of special interest. Like the other volumes exploring specific regions, it does a wonderful job covering studies on prehistory up to modern day, while also discussing the progression of research on Native American studies over the years. Other volumes dedicate themselves to general topics such as languages, contemporary society, and the complex history of Indian-white relations. Though incomplete overall, the individual volumes that are accessible would provide a wonderful complementary piece or starting point for Native American research of almost any kind.

Continue reading

National Voter Registration Day at The Ned!

One of the greatest but most underutilized privilege we have as Americans is our right to vote. The ability to go to a local polling station and place a vote for a candidate you believe in is infinitely important. Voting is something you can do to contribute to your community, city, and country. Having your own say in who you want to represent you is invaluable, and you should take advantage of it! If you want to be registered to vote but are unsure of where to start, don’t worry.

The Ned has you covered.

If you’re on campus on September 24th, come on over to the McWherter Library. From 9am until 6pm there will be a registration table with prizes, library staff volunteers, and representatives from the Shelby County Election Commission available to answer all your questions. Unable to wander over to the library? No worries! From 1pm until 3pm we will also have a table in the University Center ready to help you register too. To make it even easier for you to become a registered voter, we will have iPads and laptops fired up and available to help you! It’s as easy as that.

If all of this sounds wonderful to you, we’re ready for and look forward to seeing you on the 24th!

Have questions? Here are some voting related resources for you: