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American History with the U.S. Census

American History with the U.S. Census

History lovers ahoy! Back in 2014 the U.S. Census website started doing something awesome. Each month on their homepage they take a significant event or person and do a fascinating write-up about it using Census data.

Topics they’ve covered include:

Barnum and Bailey Circus poster from the Library of Congress

Gone with the Wind and the early American film industry

The Galveston Hurricane, still the deadliest natural disaster to strike the United States

P.T. Barnum and the Barnum & Bailey Circus

For September, they have a write up on President McKinley, who is often overshadowed by his successor Theodore Roosevelt. The article featured on the home page changes every month though, so be sure to check back in October and see what’s new!

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Summertime, and e-reading is easy!

Summertime, and e-reading is easy!

Worried that you’ll miss the Casti Library this summer? You don’t need to be! Our collection of more than 1700 ebooks is open 24/7. You can log in whenever you like. Click here to visit our digital library!

Ebooks are readable on many different devices and apps. Learn more on our FAQ or stop by the library to talk to one of your librarians before you head out on summer vacation. We can also show you how to download audiobooks from your public library.

So what’s in the digital library? Something for everyone, we hope! From childhood classics to YA to adult; from science fiction to historical fantasy to contemporary realism; from popular bestsellers to spectacular under-the-radar releases; the collection has a lot to choose from. If you need a book recommendation, click on the purple square to your right and look at our recommended reading booklet, Pinterest account, NoveList Plus, and recommended other sources for finding great books. Happy reading!

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Looking for reading recommendations? Try our Pinterest page!

Looking for reading recommendations? Try our Pinterest page!

We know that you’re going to want to stock up on books before winter break, but if you’re looking for some recommendations, the Castilleja Pinterest page is waiting for you!Screen Shot 2015-11-18 at 12.53.06 PM

Our Pinterest has over a thousand books pinned from our collection, each with a short description of the plot, and divided onto boards by genre.

Can’t get enough graphic novels? There’s a whole Pinterest board for them! Love dystopian thrillers? We’ve got a board for those too! Interested in trying something a little bit steampunk? We just launched our steampunk collection last month! From historical fiction to humor to poetry, we are positive you can find something that will appeal to you. So next time you’re in a reading slump, check out our Pinterest page here!

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Bibliophiles’ Mutual Aid Society: Finding time to read

Bibliophiles’ Mutual Aid Society: Finding time to read

"Minute to Midnight" by Gunter on

“Minute to Midnight” by Gunter on

Last week members of the Casti community gathered to brainstorm strategies for having a rich life as a pleasure reader. Here are the ideas shared by students and adults in our community. We would love to hear your strategies for finding time to read in the comments below!

Finding time to read:

In addition to the recent post, Five Steps For Making An Intentional Practice of Reading, community members suggested:

  1. Listen to audio books while commuting, exercising, etc. (check them out from your public library)
  2. Sit on the heating vent–very cozy!
  3. I schedule time on my calendar.
  4. I have a Goodreads account, so I can look for books that I want to read and mark books I have already read.
  5. I use Novelist (through the library databases page) to find new books, and the library Pinterest page, too.
  6. I am attempting to read 50 books in 2015–setting goals helps.
  7. Do the library reading challenges.

How to stop reading when the time is right:

    1. Don’t plan to stop at the end of the chapter. It will be a cliffhanger. Instead, plan to stop mid-chapter.
    2. Set a timer to ring when you need to stop. Leave it across the room, so you need to get up and turn it off. Put the book down when you get up to turn it off.
    3. If you are the kind of person who reads random pages in a book before you even start, read the end of the book when you know you are going to need to stop in the middle. That breaks you of the “need to know” and will allow you to enjoy the rest of the book at a reasonable pace.
    4. Read different types of books at different times-ones that are interesting but can be read in small chunks during the week/school weeks, a whole pile that I cannot put down for weekends/vacations.
    5. If you are eReading, use an app like Time Out to grey your screen and make you stop.
    6. Play some non-booky music. (Maybe set a device to start playing it when your reading time is up?)
    7. I always read over breakfast — it’s a short time span, with a hard stop, as I must get up and come to Casti! I’ve ceased worrying about making it to the end of a chapter, who cares.
    8. Listen to audio books while commuting, exercising, etc. (check them out from your public library).
    9. Read in a public space like The Circle or a community area in your home like the living room or kitchen-where distractions will come up and you’ll be reminded to look up and smile at someone getting a snack, say hi to a family member, or admire the beautiful blue sky.
    10. When you want to stop reading, take a break to do a mindfulness activity (such as a short meditation, apps like Stop, Breathe, & Think can help; Headspace is another) to get yourself out of the book, calm your mind, and ready yourself to shift gears.

Sometimes, if I really need to read for relaxation, I:

  • Re-read books I have read before;
  • Read something that I want to read, but know will not hold my attention for long; or
  • Read humorous essays that are just a few pages long, short stories, poems.
  1. Opening the shades and get lots of light in the room.
  2. Set page limits.
  3. Put an action item on your bookmark–get up and get a snack, do ten jumping jacks; you can list all the things you want to get done.
  4. Put a timer on your reading lamp.
  5. Choose books with dense action–even when you read a bit, you feel like something happened!
  6. Read when I have time to sit down and do it!
  7. Read realistic fiction–there is no action, so no suspense!
  8. Come to the library, and leave the book there when you leave–what you read in the library, stays in the library.
  9. Read with a buddy, parent, sibling – you can discuss the book, and you won’t want to get ahead of the other person.
  10. Read aloud (as a family) over dinner.
  11. Stop reading when you feel tired.
  12. Read a mixture of different genres–poems, short stories, essays, and magazines (that you can now check out from the library) are all things that are short.
  13. Take the train to school! That gives you time to read in both directions!


Posted in Did You Know?, Student Work0 Comments

Five Steps For Making An Intentional Practice of Reading

Five Steps For Making An Intentional Practice of Reading

Reading!What does it mean to make an intentional practice of reading? For me, it’s a way of life. When I was younger, I absolutely loved to read all the time. In elementary school, after I finished an assignment I would tuck my latest read inside a workbook and proceed to read about the BFG while the rest of my class worked on multiplying. This didn’t always go well. “Alex, what is there to read in your math book?” my teacher would ask. “There are only blank times tables in there!” As I got older and my homework load increased, I found less and less time to read. I could no longer bank on free time during school or afternoons without sports practices. Instead, I had to make time, and my intentional practice of reading was born.

Adopting an intentional practice of reading is easier and more fun than it sounds! It’s about being thoughtful in your reading choices and planning ahead to enjoy your picks. Here are my five tips for trying it out:

1. Make a list

I often find someone will give me a book suggestion, and by the time I go to the library I’ve forgotten the title. Making a list of authors and titles is a great way to avoid confusion and can help you remember to check out cool reads you wouldn’t otherwise come across.

2. Try something new

One of my favorite literary discoveries in high school was the essay. No, it’s not what your thinking! I’m talking about reading essays – fun, interesting, strange, mystifying, awesome essays – which are, unsurprisingly, much shorter than books. You can also check out books that are essay collections, and read one piece at a time. For a fun introduction, I suggest Bossypants by Tina Fey.

3. Schedule

Once you’ve found a book, article, or essay, make time to read it! You don’t need to finish the whole thing in one sitting – 15 minutes before you go to sleep is plenty of time to dive in.

4. Sit Back, Relax, Enjoy

Explore different reading environments, like your local park, a new café, or even your own backyard to see what works for you.

5. Invite A Friend

Create your own informal book club! Discovering a great book is that much more fun when you can discuss it with a friend over snacks.

by Alex Z. ’15

Image sources: School Librarian’s Workshop; Pietro Magni – The Reading Girl (La Leggitrice), model 1856, carved 1861 (photo by takomabibelot on; Fragonard, Jean-Honoré French Young Girl Reading c. 1770 (photo by The National Gallery of Art)

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My Favorite Things: Date Range Filtering

My Favorite Things: Date Range Filtering

Screen Shot 2014-09-05 at 1.59.57 PM

Have you ever wished you could look at webpages on a particular topic…but only from the last month? Identify books about FDR, but only those written during his presidency? Find pictures of One Direction, but only those posted during their X Factor days?

Google’s Date range filter allows you to specify a time period from which you want content. It works in general Web search, Images, Videos, News, and Scholar, and comes with automatic settings for items ranging from the past hour to the past year. So, for example, if you want only the latest help pages for using Google Drive, you can limit them to the past year and not get information that was last relevant in 2011.

Even cooler is the Custom range option, where you can tell Google from exactly what dates you want to see pages. Custom range allows you to tell Google that you want to see content from between two specific dates, such as pictures of One Direction posted to the web specifically between July 23, 2010, and December 12, 2010. Your can select a range of a single day, decade, or century. So, you could look for mentions of President Obama, but only before he announced he was running for president. Or take a snapshot of the reaction from the scientific community on the very day when Stephen Hawkings announced he no longer believed black holes existed as we have been thinking about them.

Physicist Stephen Hawking announced a new position on black holes on January 22, 2014.

This tool came in very handy recently, when I was writing a blog post about cool things authors do in addition to writing their books. I wanted to look at author Scott Westerfeld’s first blog post about parasites.

(1) I knew Westerfeld’s web address, so I did a site: search for [ parasite], asking Google to only look within that one website for any pages containing the word parasite.

[ parasite]


(2) By clicking on the Search tools button at the end of the menu appearing below the search box, I open a set of options, which appear in a new row. In general Web search, I get: Any timeAll results, and my location.

[scottwesterfeld parasite] search tools

(3) By clicking on Any time, I open a list of possible time filters:

  • Any time
  • Past hour
  • Past 24 hours
  • Past week
  • Past month
  • Past year, and
  • Custom range

I click on Custom range.

[scottwesterfeld parasite] any time open

(4) A Custom range box pops up, and lets me chose the dates I want my range to start and end. Since I know that Peeps was published in 2005, I ask for any pages from Westerfeld’s site that mention parasites, and which Google found before 2006. Google will auto-correct who years entered into the To box to the last day of the year–in this case, 12/31/2006.

[scottwesterfeld parasite] custom range

(5) I am now only seeing pages Google found before December 31, 2006. It tells me that the date filter is on right there in the menus under the search box. Also, each result showing on the page now also tells me the date on which Google first visited it.

[scottwesterfeld parasite] custom range on

(6) Another cool option has now appeared: there is a Sort by relevance drop-down menu, which allows me to change the order of my results. Now, I can Sort by date, instead. Note that pages sorted by date will be in reverse chronological order, meaning that the most recent pages will come first.

[scottwesterfeld parasite] sorted by date(7) Finally, it is simply a matter of going to the final result, or the earliest page on Westerfeld’s website that mentions parasites. Note that Google found it on August 21, 2005, which was actually the same day it was posted to the web.

[scottwesterfeld parasite] earliest post

I find that I use date range filtering a lot when I search. It can help me isolate a desired point in time, and using the date range filter in combination with the Sorted by date feature turns out to b very useful if I am trying to find the original source of an idea or an image.

How might you use it?

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