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Need A Book Recommendation? Try Pinterest!

Need A Book Recommendation? Try Pinterest!

Welcome to the 2014-2015 school year! We librarians have already begun working hard getting the library ready for you. We have piles of new books, many of which are already on display on racks and shelves around the library. We’re excited to recommend some excellent reads for you.

Take a look to your right – see where it says “New Books?” That’s the feed from the Casti Library Pinterest account, and it will always show you four book covers that we’ve recently added to the library collection. Clicking on a book cover will lead you to the pin for that particular title. You can also look underneath the book covers and click on the little P. That will take you to our main page, where you can find boards dedicated to various genres and themes, like scary stories, books about to become movies or TV shows, mysteries, and more. All of the books on those pages are titles we have in our collection, so you can be sure to have access to them as soon as you see them and decide you want to read them.

What makes this even more fun is that once you are on one of our Pinterest boards, you can discover even more about books and the world of literature and publishing. Every book you click on will first pop up with an annotation to help you learn more about the book, including recommended grade levels. Then, once you click again, you’ll be taken off-site to see a video book trailer, read an interview with the author, visit the author’s website, or go somewhere else on the Internet that will allow you to get to know the book even better.

Pinterest is a great way to find out what books we’ve recently gotten in. Our New Books board will feature some of the most exciting new volumes, and still more will be on physical display when you come inside. We can’t add them to Pinterest fast enough!

We’re excited to offer this service to you for when you are looking for a book recommendation. But we can’t do it without you! Please come up and talk to any of your librarians about what you like about our Pinterest page and what you think is missing. We’ll always be adding new boards and new recommendations to existing ones, and we’d love to know what you’ve been enjoying lately. And don’t forget: we are always excited to talk with you in person and give you even more recommendations if you’re looking for something good.

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What Is Steampunk?!?

What Is Steampunk?!?

"LuftFlotte Steampunk..." by stephanie at

“LuftFlotte Steampunk…” by stephanie at

“What is steampunk, anyway?”

We got that question a number of times last year, so we are here to explain.

After looking at a lot of different definitions, one source sums it up handily:

Steampunk is modern technology—iPads, computers, robotics, air travel— powered by steam and set in the 1800’s.

Often, steampunk is referred to as Victorian fantasy; stories take aspects of modern technology and adapt them to the Victorian age. It can be full-on alternate reality, like Scott Westerfeld’s Leviathan trilogy, or it can simply be an underlying feature in a more realistic novel. Steampunk novels tend to have a dark feel to them.

Here is a sampling of the steampunk novels you can find in the library:

The Hunchback Assignments

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The Finishing School series

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The Lazarus Machine

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Fever Crumb

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Something Strange and Deadly and A Darkness Strange and Lovely

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The Leviathan Trilogy: Leviathan Behemoth Goliath

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Want to learn more about steampunk? Here is a good place to start.

Try out a new genre today!

Corrine M. ‘15 with Ms. Bergson-Michelson


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New Resources for Choosing What To Read Next!

New Resources for Choosing What To Read Next!

novplus200Just in time for summer, we’ve added two amazing resources for students and families searching for great reads. First, the new edition of our Recommended Pleasure Reading booklet is here! Just click on the Recommended Reading square to your right to view the booklet online.

Second, we’ve added an amazing new database to our collection of electronic resources: NoveList Plus. This fantastic tool is great for finding out more about books you’re interested in and for discovering new books based on what you love. You can find the link to NoveList Plus on the Databases page.

There are so many ways to use this database! You can search for particular titles the way you would search Amazon or GoodReads, but the results will include even more information, like professional book reviews, descriptions of the storytelling style, and “readalikes,” or similar books and authors. You’ll also be able to search for books that share an aspect of the book you already like, such as “intricately plotted” or “strong sense of place.” If you aren’t sure yet what you’d like to read, NoveList Plus can help you with that, too. If you click on Feature Articles, you can read guides to all sorts of genres, from romance to magical realism. And, of course, you can always do a keyword search for anything you’re interested in and then refine your results by audience, year of publication, theme, or genre. There is a lot to learn about and do in NoveList Plus. These video tutorials may help you, but you can also come into the library and ask us for help.

We hope you enjoy these new resources. Here’s to a summer full of books!

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My Favorite Things: The Pirate Tree

My Favorite Things: The Pirate Tree

ThePirateTree_banner1If you’re active in the ACE Center, a member of the diversity club, inspired by your Global Investigator trip, or you regularly join in on the fun with the We Won’t Stop Club, take that passion into your reading! The website The Pirate Tree is a great place to visit to learn all about books with social justice messages and diverse, important themes like economics, poverty, war, and immigration. Managed by a collective of children’s and young adult authors, these writers put their money where their mouths are and consider, analyze, and promote books that may otherwise not be very popular or visible in libraries or bookstores.

The posts run the gamut on both topic and age range. You’ll learn about everything from picturebooks through YA, making this website a great stop for Casti students and their families. Just a taste of some of the books they’ve written about that you can check out from our library:

The Pirate Tree invites guest writers to contribute, so if you’ve read a book that aligns with your interests, consider writing for the Pirate Tree – or for us! We love publishing your voices on the library website. Enjoy!

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My Favorite Things: The Amelia Bloomer Project

My Favorite Things: The Amelia Bloomer Project

HuntressYou may know that when the bicycle came to be popular, women’s clothing reformers advocated for the acceptability of trousers so that girls could enjoy riding without fear of getting their skirts tangled up. Thus “bloomers” came to be, and while she did not invent them herself, the reformer and feminist Amelia Bloomer became associated with the namesake fashion item, which replaced uncomfortable corsets and layer upon layer of skirt and slip with the loose-fitting pants and shorter skirts.

So now you might understand why this woman inspired an organization’s effort to identify and promote literature with a feminist message. The Amelia Bloomer Project honors multiple books each year that they think have a feminist message, and the best thing about it is that they define “feminism” broadly, incorporating many ideologies and perspectives. That means that whether you identify as a feminist or not, as a member of a girls’ school community, you may find these books thought-provoking. Here are some of the criteria they use to judge a book’s feminist content:

Feminist books show women overcoming the obstacles of intersecting forces of race, gender, and class, actively shaping their destinies. They break bonds forced by society as they defy stereotypical expectations and show resilience in the face of societal strictures. In addition, feminist books show women solving problems, gaining personal power, and empowering others. They celebrate girls and women as a vibrant, vital force in the world.

OCSSome of the books nominated by the Amelia Bloomer committee in the past are available in the library, like I Shall Wear Midnight by Terry Pratchett, One Crazy Summer by Rita Williams-García, The Bride’s Farewell by Meg Rosoff, Huntress by Malinda Lo, and Flygirl by Sherri L. Smith. The newest list is announced each January at the American Library Association’s Midwinter Meeting. They showcase their Top 10 in addition to all the nominated titles from the year.

If you are interested in finding books that star great women and girls, fictional and real, and show them for the multifaceted, interesting people that they are, you might want to look at the Amelia Bloomer List. The committees do a great job at choosing diverse titles from every genre, and each nominated title gets a post on their blog where you can learn more about the book. To top it off, the Amelia Bloomer List is something you can share with your whole family, because they highlight books “from birth to 18,” so there really is something for everyone.

So if you want to discover something new, consider the Amelia Bloomer List!

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Your Wikipedia Questions Answered

Wikipedia. We consider it the source of all knowledge, teachers generally consider it to be an ‘unreliable source,’ and everyone acknowledges that it’s a great starting point for any research project. But how much do we really know about Wikipedia’s structure?

The Seventh Graders recently worked with the librarians and members of the seventh grade faculty during Flex Block to talk about Wikipedia, and at the end of the period they still had many unanswered questions.

Q: How was Wikipedia started? How does it make money?

A: Officially, Jimmy Wales and Larry Sanger started Wikipedia on January 15, 2001.

The idea came up much earlier, however. Several people attempted to use the web to publish free encyclopedias, but the projects never really took off. Jimmy Wales and several collaborators had the idea that they could publish an online encyclopedia written by highly-qualified volunteers with a complex peer review process. It was called Nupedia. They hired a full-time editor-in-chief, Larry Sanger, to be in charge of the editing process. Unfortunately, the process was so slow that they only completed twelve articles in the first year. Then, they got the idea to use wiki technology to make it really fast and easy for anyone to edit.

Actually, Wikipedia is not a company. It is part of a nonprofit organization called the Wikimedia Foundation. The money to operate the Wikimedia Foundation comes from donations, especially from its users. In a fundraising statement that is showing up at the top of every Wikipedia page right now, they say their average donation is about $15. Wikimedia says that the money they raise goes to buy the technology they need to run the company, and to paying the 175 employees they now have on staff.

To learn more about the history of Wikipedia, check out the “History of Wikipedia” article:

Q: Wikipedia now has 175 full-time employees. What do they do? Are they employees of just Wikipedia or do they work for all the Wikimedia sites? Do they edit the articles? Do the employees get paid? Or are they just volunteers?

A: The Wikimedia Foundation’s employees and contractors work in 7 different departments: The Office of the Executive Director, Engineering and Product Development (subcategories include Platform, Features, Technical Operations, Mobile, Languages, Apps, User Experience, Editor Engagement, Product, and more), Grantmaking and Programs, Fundraising, Legal and Community Advocacy, Finance and Administration, and Human Resources. As full-time employees and contractors, they do get paid. They do not edit the articles. Most of them are employed in the Engineering and Product Design department, which generally ensures that the sites run smoothly.

(Learn more:

Wikipedia does have an actual office for its employees (see the contact information below).

The education needed to work at Wikipedia varies by the type of job, but there are some jobs that only look for a Bachelor’s degree (four years of college), while others might prefer a Ph.D. or law degree. Some jobs want degrees in computer science, but others may want linguistics or business degrees, while yet other positions are not looking for any particular background. In all cases, Wikipedia wants individuals with a lot of hands-on experience with similar work.

Q: Are Wikipedia editors ever paid?

A: No. Paid editing (writing or editing on Wikipedia in return for money) was proposed to Wikipedia, but ultimately failed, as it presented a moral issue in the form of “conflict of interest”– because paid editing includes inserting or deleting content to the advantage of the editor’s employer or client.

(Learn more:

Q: Why are so few women editing Wikipedia?

A: You might be interested to know that the Executive Director of the Wikimedia Foundation is, actually, a woman named Sue Gardner. On her blog, she posted a list of nine reasons why women don’t edit Wikipedia, in their own words.

Some main reasons cited are that the interface is not very user-friendly, that they are too busy, a lack of self-confidence, the feeling that the Wikipedia-verse is filled with conflict and sometimes is overtly misogynistic, and there’s also quite a bit of online sexual harrassment.

You can find the full article here: (

Q: What is Wikipedia doing to balance the gender imbalance of the editors?

A: Also from Sue Gardner’s blog– some main things Wikipedia is doing to actively encourage women to edit are: deliberately focusing recruiting efforts on women (and encouraging the current female editors to recruit other women), staging and supporting women-only activities, working to create and protect a female-friendly environment (that is, getting rid of some of the sexism that already surrounds Wikipedia), and emphasizing the social impact that editing Wikipedia can have.

Again, you can find the full article here: (

Q: How do wikipedia editors find topics that are not covered and ask for them to be put onto the site?

A: First: search for the topic and any related topics. If there’s absolutely nothing there, then you can create a new article. Note that only registered users (no anonymous editors) can create new articles.

Wikipedia advises against creating articles about yourself/your friends and family/ your teachers/ etc., “non-notable topics,” advertising, anything with an opinion, or any very short articles. (Wikipedia has a List of Bad Article Ideas.)

The entire process is explained here:

Q: How is Wikipedia making itself a more reliable source? Does Wikipedia check the edits that we make (for accuracy and appropriateness)? How does something get fixed if a user contributes something inaccurate or irrelevant? Do other users fix it? Is it not fixed at all?

A: Wikipedia places a ton of trust in its editing community, as it doesn’t require a name, login, or even an email address to edit. Surprisingly, as it turns out, we as a community have earned their trust pretty well. According to a study done by MIT, “We’ve examined many pages on Wikipedia that treat controversial topics, and have discovered that most have, in fact, been vandalized at some point in their history. But we’ve also found that vandalism is usually repaired extremely quickly—so quickly that most users will never see its effects…” That is to say, yes, there are some editors wreaking havoc on Wiki pages, but they are overwhelmed by others who correct their damage almost immediately.

(Learn more:

Q: How does Wikipedia deal with disagreements among editors?

A: Disagreement among contributors can take several forms, including:

  • People may have different ideas about a topic. When different theories are well-documented and widely accepted, an article often refers to them all. Editors can find factual ways to introduce conflicting ideas. For example, scientists have a dispute over whether octopuses can learn new skills by observing others. Currently, the article explains that the “idea [that octopuses learn by observing] is disputed by some.” (Read more:
  • Each article has a Talk page associated with it. On that page, editors discuss questions and controversies. Editors are encouraged to work out their conflicts on the Talk page, but anyone can click on the Talk link at the top of an article and see what discussions are taking place.If an editor undoes another editor’s work on the same page three times within 24 hours, that editor will be blocked from writing on Wikipedia. This is to keep people from switching information repeatedly to reflect their own point-of-view.
  • If a highly controversial page is being edited constantly, going back and forth among two or more points-of-view, top editors may “lock” the page–meaning most people will be unable to edit it. If you are interested, you can look at Wikipedia’s list of most frequently edited pages:

Q: How can I learn more about editing Wikipedia?

A: Wikipedia offers a lot of training in how to edit. As the organization works to create high quality information, administrators create more and more guidelines and policies to keep the process working well. If you want to learn more about editing Wikipedia (Simple or “regular”), you can start on the main Help:Editing page.

Q: Where are Wikipedia’s headquarters located?

A: The Wikimedia Foundation is located in San Francisco. They welcome letters, emails, and faxes, and you can find contact information here: http:/

Q: What country has the most Wikipedia editors?

Most editors (20%) live in the US, followed by Germany (12%) and Russia (7%).

Researched and Written by Libby B. (’14) with some updates by Ms. Bergson-Michelson.

Posted in Did You Know?, Student Work, Technology0 Comments

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