Memorial Day in Indiana: barbeques, sales, and of course, the Indy 500. However, it’s also important to remember the real reason behind the day – to honor those who have died in warfare. Memorial Day has its origins in the aftermath of the American Civil War – it was originally called “Decoration Day” and citizens were encouraged to decorate the graves of those who had fallen during the war. It wasn’t until after World War I that it was expanded to honor those who died in all American wars. In 1971, Memorial Day was established as a national holiday and is celebrated on the last Monday of every May. For more information on the history of Memorial Day, be sure to check out the Department of Veterans Affairs Memorial Day site.
Of course, a lot of people will be barbequing this weekend as well! The USDA provides a fact sheet of safety tips for those who are grilling out. Tips include keeping things clean, keeping food cold prior to grilling, and making sure everything is fully cooked. Additionally, many swimming pools open this weekend. Medline Plus provides swimming safety tips.
At 3:00 PM on Monday is designated as a National Minute of Remembrance. You can learn more about the Vietnam Veterans, Korean War Veterans and World War II Veterans Memorials by clicking on the links. Finally, be sure to check out different veterans’ stories at the Stories from the Veterans Project from the Library of Congress.
Get TrafficWise and Save Time on Your Daily Commute
The Indiana Department of Transportation (INDOT) has a program to use Intelligent Transportation Systems, or ITS, to help relieve traffic congestion and to improve safety. INDOT’s initiative is called TrafficWise. You can get real time traffic information in the Indianapolis Metropolitan area and northwest Indiana near Gary. You can also check out traffic conditions in Southern Indiana and the Louisville area by clicking on the Louisville TRIMARC link. This information allows you to check out traffic conditions on freeways before you leave your home or workplace. When you’re in your vehicle traveling the interstates, you can look to the large Dynamic Message Signs on the highway regarding traffic conditions to plan alternative routes if necessary. Other ITS avenues of communication of traffic conditions are alerts via the Highway Advisory Radio system and notices sent via the Internet or personal pagers. Those traveling by car this Memorial Day Holiday can be safe and utilize TrafficWise to avoid the headaches of traffic jams and construction.
Discover America’s Natural Heritage this Summer
Now that it’s getting warm out, many Hoosiers start thinking about what sort of activities to do this summer. Make the most of your summer and visit a national park! These beautiful parks offer both recreational and educational activities. Whether you’re interested in camping and hiking or in history and nature, there is probably a park that will fit in with your interests. If you’re unsure of where to begin, the National Park Service has a great feature on their website for locating national parks. Simply click on the state that you’re interested in and you’ll be shown a descriptive list of all the parks there. You can make it a long trip out west, or even stay in Indiana. The possibilities for enjoying nature are endless.
Raise Awareness About Risks of High Blood Pressure in May
Should you have your blood pressure checked this month? Chances are, the answer is yes! Direct your patrons to the website of the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute of the National Institutes of Health. Search their diseases and conditions index and find out more about High blood pressure (or Hypertension) and how knowing your numbers can prevent disease & help keep you healthy. Check out their online Guide to Lowering High Blood Pressure for many FAQs. The Centers for Disease Control has a feature on May’s High Blood Pressure Education Month which offers statistics and quick facts about Hypertension. The Medline Plus encyclopedia entry on High Blood Pressure provides links to information in 17 languages other than English, plus the latest news and research. Remember – you can keep your blood pressure at a healthy level by monitoring your numbers, watching your nutrition, and staying active.
UNESCO Identifies Worldwide Treasures
The United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) provides a searchable list and map of 878 properties deemed as having “outstanding universal value” by the U.N. World Heritage Committee. The World Heritage List includes unique properties in 145 different countries that are protected under the World Heritage Convention. As its website says, “Heritage is our legacy from the past, what we live with today, and what we pass on to future generations. Our cultural and natural heritage are both irreplaceable sources of life and inspiration.” Each entry briefly describes the property and includes a gallery of photographs, maps, news, links, and additional media. Most properties, including the Church and Dominican Convent of Santa Maria delle Grazie with “The Last Supper” by Leonardo da Vinci, contain descriptive videos as well. You and your patrons can take an online tour of Venice and its Lagoon, visit the Great Wall of China from above the earth, or learn about beautiful Cocos Island National Park in Costa Rica, all from the comfort of your library terminal.
by Katharine Springer, Elisabeth O’Donnell, & Kim Brown-Harden
May is Jewish American Heritage Month; and seven different federal agencies are a part of the celebration. The federal government’s Jewish American Heritage Month web portal introduces stories of Jewish Americans, electronic exhibits and collections, and images of famous Jewish Americans like Leonard Bernstein, Betty Friedan, and Edward Koch. Agencies responsible for the website include the Library of Congress, National Archives and Records Administration, and the National Endowment for the Humanities. One story that is especially interesting from the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum, is that of Jewish Parachutists from Palestine. This was a group of men and women who signed up to help the British Army parachute into German-occupied Europe as aid to Allied personnel. The National Register of Historic Places also features structures and parks related to Jewish Heritage on their Jewish American Heritage Month 2009 website. The new National Museum of American Jewish History will open next year in Philadelphia, P.A and features “one of the nation’s largest collection of Jewish Americana.” Take a look at the new structure and visit their website!
Federal Grants Support Your Local Farmers Market
Indiana’s Farmers Markets offer a wide variety of fresh fruits and vegetables from strawberries and blueberries to melons, asparagus, and especially corn. Farmers Markets are one of the best ways to support your local economy as well as enjoy various fresh produce. Farmers Markets are widely available and popular, in part, due to the Farmers Market Cost Share Program. The Indiana State Department of Agriculture (ISDA) is once again utilizing funds from USDA’s Specialty Crop Block Grant to offer a cost-share reimbursement program to provide grants to Indiana farmers’ markets. If you are interested in participating in this program, you can get detailed information from the Program Guidance and Application form. There is also a New Vendor Form available.
For guidelines on the Cost Share program, be sure to check out the ISDA’s website. To find a Farmers Market near you, check out the Directory. Finally, for general information and facts about the markets, you can go to the USDA informational website.
Lyme Disease Awareness Highlighted This May
Summer is coming and that means that people are spending a lot more time outside. Unfortunately, being outside means an increased exposure to ticks and Lyme Disease. That is why May has been declared Lyme Disease Awareness Month. Lyme Disease is spread through tick bites – specifically, through the bites of Blacklegged Ticks, also known as Deer Ticks. Lone star Ticks and Dog Ticks (also known as Wood Ticks) are not known to carry the disease. Be sure to visit the CDC page on Lyme Disease Transmission to compare images of the different species. Medline Plus, Lyme Disease is characterized by a fever, headache, muscle ache, joint swelling, and a rash that usually resembles a bullseye. Lyme Disease can be cured by antibiotics, particularly if it is caught early on. Although you cannot catch Lyme Disease from your pets, it is important to check them for ticks when they come in from outside. You don’t want them getting the painful disease either!
Statistics provided by the CDC show that Indiana has a very low rate of infection. In 2007, there were only 55 reported cases (as compared to 1814 reported cases in Wisconsin). However, if you are camping or traveling to another state, particularly on the East Coast, make sure to take precautions. These include insect repellent and wearing long-sleeved clothing. See the CDC for complete instructions.
USPS Adds Their Two Cents to Postage Stamps
Starting Monday, May 11, the US Postal Service increased its postage rates. First class stamps increased from $0.42 to $0.44. Forever stamps may also be used under the new rates, regardless of what price they were purchased at. For a complete list of the change in price, see the USPS website. Not all rates have changed – as per the Postal Accountability and Enhancement Act of 2006 (PL 109-453), mailing rates increase every May, while parcel rates increase in January.
STATS Indiana Update
Can’t locate the Indiana data you need? Check out Stats Indiana, and you’ll see a brand new interface. Explore Profiles, Data by Topic, and Data by Location. Are you looking for graphics to complete that report? Try the Dashboard Indicators, a collection of charts covering popular economic indicators such as Jobs, Income, Unemployment, and Population counts. Under Additional Resources, there are Tools including an Inflation Calculator, a Nationwide City-to-County Finder, and a more detailed A to Z guide by topic. On the right-hand side of the page, find links to today’s data trends and a variety publications like the Indiana Business Research Center’s InContext.
by Katharine Springer, Elisabeth O’Donnell, & Kim Brown-Harden
Although this is the last day, it is not too late to celebrate Air Quality Awareness Week. Running from April 27 to May 1, the Week is designed to promote behavior that encourages clean air. The Environmental Protection Agency has a great site that focuses on a new topic each day of the week. Previous days are also available for viewing. Topics include causes of air pollution, the dangers of air pollution and what you can do to help alleviate it.
Indiana is doing its part as well. The Indiana Department of Environmental Management has launched SmogWatch, a site that provides visitors with daily ground-level ozone forecasts and health information. They also have a site dedicated to Continuous Air Quality Monitoring. Their news release provides tips on how to personally reduce ozone levels, including carpooling, turning off appliances when not using them and turning off the air conditioning.
For an interactive map that shows air quality levels throughout the country, be sure to check out the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration website.
Online Resources Clear the Air About Swine Flu
There have been a lot of questions about the Swine Flu lately: How is it spread? Where does it come from? Swine Flu is caused by influenza viruses that normally infect pigs. The virus causing the current influenza outbreak is not a swine flu virus, but a combination of human, swine and bird viruses. The flu virus causing the current outbreak, now called Influenza A (H1N1)/North America/Human, has adapted itself to be transmitted from person-to-person. Swine in the United States have not been and are not infected with this virus. Symptoms are similar to normal influenza symptoms: cough, fever, sore throat, and muscle aches. Others have reported runny noses, diarrhea, and vomiting. If you have these symptoms, the CDC recommends that you contact your health care provider. The CDC provides a good set of guidelines for preventing the spread of flu – or any other illness. Health care experts suggest that you stay home if you are sick, wash your hands frequently, and cover your nose and mouth when you cough and/or sneeze.
Health officials have warned that this is not an epidemic. Swine flu is not transmitting all that rapidly. It is not even new – the CDC reports that it has been receiving reports every year from 1976 to 2005 about Swine Flu occurrences in the United States. It is important for the public to have access to this information from reliable resources; however, health officials warn that we should not panic.
There are a number of state and federal resources that provide information on Swine Flu. They include the Indiana State Department of Health, the Indiana Department of Homeland Security, the Centers for Disease Control and the World Health Organization. For information related specifically to Indiana, see the State Department of Health Press Release.
More Job Opportunities Sought for People with Disabilities
According to a March press release, the National Council on Disability (NCD) is recommending the creation of more federal job opportunities for people with disabilities. While the NCD acknowledges that strides have been made with laws, regulations and policies, there are still many barriers preventing the hiring of those with disabilities. The ten recommendations are aimed at the Office of Personnel Management (OPM), Congress and even individuals. The NCD claims that existing laws need to be better; however, people with disabilities need to take advantage of current opportunities from the Federal Government. The paper, Federal Employment of People with Disabilities, is available for viewing. People with disabilities interested in federal employment can check out the OPM website on the topic. It has information on laws related to employment as well as tips and advice on how to obtain a position.
IRS Warns Taxpayers to be Wary of Return Scams
Please be aware of persons via email or phone claiming to be from the Internal Revenue Service. This could be a tax scam. As the IRS says, “Remember that if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. Some recent scams claim that your U.S. refund was not enough and that the IRS owes you more money. For examples of other tax scams, visit the IRS Tax Scams/Consumer Alerts webpage, and see especially Identity and Financial Theft Tax Scams.
For more tips on avoiding these, visit the IRS webpage, Tax Scams – How to Recognize and Avoid Them. You can also report suspected tax fraud activity by sending IRS form 3949-A, Information Referral, to the Internal Revenue Service. Report Identity and Financial Theft Tax Fraud to the Treasury General for Tax Administration or 1-800-366-4484.
by Katharine Springer, Elisabeth O’Donnell, & Kim Brown-Harden
This week, the United Nations Education, Scientific and Cultural Organization released the World Digital Library. The WDL features digitized books, maps, manuscripts, films, photographs, journals, and sound recordings from libraries and archives around the world. Browse its contents (via different seven languages) by place, time, topic, type of item, or institution. Once you have selected an item to view, read a detailed description, then open the item and zoom in to see details. You can travel the world from your computer – from a jaguar sculpture created in Veracruz, Mexico between 600 and 900 A.D. to a letter of Christopher Columbus from 1493. Bookmark and share your discoveries instantly via email or more than 40 different ways using the SHARE menu underneath each image. For Copyright information, check out the Legal link at the bottom of the WDL page. Check out the About section for more information about the history of the WDL and its partner institutions and contributors.
Census Finds Americans Move Less in 2008
The national mover rate in the United States is at its lowest since the U.S. Census Bureau began tracking it in 1948, according to a Census Bureau press release issued Wednesday. In 2008, the rate was at 11.9 percent, meaning only 11.9 percent of U.S. residents moved (to a different residence in the same county, a different county, a different state, or from overseas). This is down from 13.2 percent in 2007. These numbers are from the Bureau’s Current Population Survey – Annual Social and Economic Supplement conducted annually at 100,000 addresses across the nation. For detailed statistics, including Reason for Move and Distance of Intercounty Move, view the tables on Geographical Mobility: 2007 to 2008, from the Census Bureau’s website.
One Weekend Left to “JAM” this April
Spring into the end of April with Jazz! April is Jazz Appreciation Month (JAM). The Smithsonian Museum of American History launched JAM in 2001 as an annual event to pay tribute to jazz as both a living and an historic art form. It has grown to include events in all 50 states and 40 countries. In celebration of JAM, the museum joins a diverse group of organizations, institutions, organizations, associations, and federal agencies that have provided financial or other in-kind donations to support this art form and offer different ways of education and outreach about jazz. The Smithsonian operates the world’s most comprehensive set of jazz programs with Smithsonian Jazz. The National Museum of American History is home to jazz collections that include 100,000 pages of Duke Ellington’s unpublished music and such objects as Ella Fitzgerald’s famous red dress, Dizzy Gillespie’s angled trumpet, John Coltrane’s A Love Supreme manuscript and Benny Goodman’s clarinet. The museum has just reopened after a two-year renovation.
April is National Poetry Month!
April is National Poetry Month. Since its inauguration in 1996, National Poetry Month is held every April, when publishers, booksellers, literary organizations, libraries, schools, and poets around the country come together to celebrate poetry and keep it in the forefront of American Culture. Thousands of businesses and non profit organizations host poetry slams and other related events, such as festivals, displays, and workshops. To find more information about Poetry Month, please visit Poets.org, from the Academy of American Poets; and use the National Poetry Map to locate festivals and literary organizations across the country.
by Katharine Springer, Elisabeth O’Donnell, & Kim Brown-Harden
Governor Daniels has proclaimed April 13-18 as Indiana Wind Energy Week. The American Wind Energy Association (AWEA) recently designated Indiana as the #1 Wind Power Growth Rate state in the country for 2008. As part of the celebration, two new wind farms will be holding their groundbreaking events this week. The two new farms will be in White and Benton counties. Be sure to visit the AWEA’s website to view the press release about the exciting news.
More information about wind energy and its benefits can be found from the Department of Energy: Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy program. They also provide a fun page for kids interested in renewable energies. Public officials, economic and engineering professionals may also be interested in attending the Northeast Indiana Wind Energy Supply Chain Workshop on April 22, 2009.
Online Resources Highlight Earth Day 2009
One of the reasons we celebrate Earth Day on Wednesday, Apr. 22 is out of a growing concern for the environment at the national level. Check out EarthDay.gov, the main U.S. Government portal for events and information. Earth Day was first nationally recognized on April 22, 1970, as a grassroots response to important environmental events of the previous year – a fire on the Cuyahoga River near Lake Erie, the decline of the Bald Eagle, and the Santa Barbara oil spill. Learn more about Earth Day 1970 on the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s 200 Years of Science, Service, and Stewardship website. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency also offers ways to take action via their Earth Day website in English and Spanish. For Earth Day events happening in Indiana during April, check the Indiana Department of Environmental Management Earth Day 2009 webpage.
D’oh! Simpson’s Stamps Available in May
Now is your chance to see Homer or Marge on a postage stamp! The United States Postal Service is releasing a set of Simpson’s stamps on May 7, 2009. You can pre-order them online today. However, the Postal Service is also hosting a contest to vote on your favorite character. Voting started on April 9 and goes until May 14. According to a Post Office press release, the USPS receives over 50,000 suggestions for stamp ideas a year and narrows it down to twenty new releases. To help with this, the Postmaster General created a Citizens’ Stamp Advisory Committee. The Committee is made up of artists, graphic design professionals, and historians who can offer their different brands of expertise.
Don’t forget – the price of stamps goes up 2-cents in May, from 42 to 44 cents. Buy your forever stamps now to help alleviate the transition!
Get Important Daily Health News from MedlinePlus
The National Library of Medicine’s online MedlinePlus health encyclopedia compiles current reliable health news daily via theirMedlinePlus News By Date webpage. Scan article titles for interesting news of the day, such as “Soothing songs please the heart” (Wednesday, April 15); or choose your news by topic by clicking on Health news by topic, which is organized alphabetically and then by date. Explore the latest news on topics such as African-American Health, Sleep Disorders, Teen Health, and Food Contamination and Poisoning.
by Katharine Springer, Elisabeth O’Donnell & Kim Brown-Harden