April 21, 2020

Problems with your library card?

It's expired? Locked because you tried the wrong password too many times? Etc.? Fill out the registration form here and we will try to help.


Be sure to use an email address you check frequently.

Posted by library at 12:51 PM

April 20, 2020

The Oxford English Dictionary: Desert Island Reading from the Takoma Park Library

W.H. Auden once suggested that, for desert island reading, a good dictionary would be preferable to the greatest literary masterpiece because the masterpiece has a limited number of ways it can be read legitimately, while the dictionary can be read an infinite number of ways. Surely he had in mind the Oxford English Dictionary, or the OED, as it is called.

And he was not alone: a 1910 New Statesman review of some of the early published volumes of the OED stated:

"...[The Oxford English Dictionary] would be as good a companion on a desert island as a man could hope for, as, apart from the history of the words, the quotations are endlessly entertaining in themselves. It is like having all the birthday books and literary calendars ever written rolled into one."

Smaller dictionaries will give you at most a few definitions of a word, plus, if you're lucky, a sample usage. The Oxford English, or OED as it is called, gives you the entire story of a word, starting with the part of speech, the pronunciation(s), the various forms it has taken in English, the relative frequency of use, and then the etymology. Only then do we begin to discover the various definitions a word might have, depending on the context of course. And along with each definition is a historical record of its usage, starting with the earliest written.

An example is worth a thousand words. Here is the beginning of the entry for the lovely word "autochthonous":

autochthonous, adj.

Pronunciation:? Brit. /ɔːˈtɒkθənəs/ /ɔːˈtɒkθn̩əs/
U.S. /ɔˈtɑkθənəs/ /ɑˈtɑkθənəs/
Forms: autochthonous, autochtonous, autocthonous.
Frequency (in current use):
Origin: Formed within English, by derivation. Etymons: autochthon n., -ous suffix.
Etymology: < autochthon n. + -ous suffix.
In sense 1b after French autochtone (1924 in this sense: S. Winogradsky, in Comptes rendus hebd. de l'Acad. des Sci. 178 1236; 1745 (as autochton ) with reference to ancient Greece, subsequently from 1762 as autochtone ).
In sense 2a after German autochthon (1858 in this sense: R. Virchow Die Cellularpathologie x. 184). In sense 3 after German autochthon (1888 in this sense: K. W. von Gmbel Grundzge der Geol. I. ii. 615).

You'll notice we haven't got a clue yet what it might mean. Well, hang on as it has a general meaning as well as being a term of art in several of the physical sciences.

First the general definition, along with the citations for its usage:

1. a. Of or relating to autochthons (autochthon n.
1); indigenous.
1804 Crit. Rev. Feb. 170 The flavour of the soil everywhere savours his [sc. Plautus'] idiomatic dialect, his domestic allusions, his autochthonous characters.
1860 J. Muir Orig. Sanskrit Texts II. ii. vii. 309 The Arians were not autochthonous in India, but came from some country to the north.
1946 Harper's Mag. Dec. 484/2 The cattle business has also supplied the West's autochthonous festival, the rodeo.
1963 D. Macdonald Against Amer. Grain 14 Folk art grew mainly from below; an autochthonous product shaped by the people to fit their own needs.
2004 H. Jacobson Making of Henry iii. 88?? His autochthonous neighbours in the Pennines.

The scientific usages follow after: microbiology, medicine, and geology. Just for fun and because I know we have at least one geologist amongst our patrons, I'll copy the section on geology:

3. Geology. Of a rock formation, sedimentary deposit, etc.: that has formed in its present position or from indigenous material. Also: of or relating to such a formation, deposit, etc. Contrasted with allochthonous adj. Cf. autochthon n. 4.
1891 H. E. F. Garnsey tr. H. zu Solms-Laubach Fossil Bot. i. 19 Others..made the entire material of the coal-seams grow in loco, adopting therefore the theory of autochthonous origin.
1916 Bot. Gaz. 62 33 Autochthonous peat (that type of peat which represents the amassing of successive generations of plants in..constant, but stagnant..water).
1935 E. B. Bailey Tectonic Ess. iii. 34 In tectonics, an autochthonous fold is one that is made of untravelled indigenous rocks.
1989 Jrnl. Petrol. 30 108 Rocks of the Antalya Unit occur..in a narrow corridor between the Alanya Nappes and the relatively autochthonous Central Taurides.
2006 A. G. van der Valk Biol. Freshwater Wetlands v. 100 Wetlands..continue to collect or channel water even as they fill in with allochthonous or autochthonous sediment.

Well now, you might think that the OED is good only for fusty, dusty words like the one above. Not so: we turned up the following just the other day:

OMG, int. (and n.) and adj.

Brit. /ˌəʊɛmˈdʒiː/
U.S. /ˌoʊˌɛmˈdʒi/
Forms: O.M.G., OMG, omg.
Frequency (in current use):
Origin: Formed within English, as an initialism. Etymon: English oh my God.
Etymology: Initialism < the initial letters of "oh my God" (frequently as a graphic abbreviation).
The final element may sometimes represent gosh, goodness, etc.
colloquial (frequently in the language of electronic communications).

A. int. (and n.)
Expressing astonishment, excitement, embarrassment, etc.: "oh my God!"; = omigod int. Also occasionally as n.Quot. 1917 is perhaps with punning reference to the Order of St. Michael and St. George, which at this point had had no Grand Master or Chancellor for several years: these were appointed on 4 Oct. 1917.
1917 J. A. F. Fisher Let. 9 Sept. in Memories (1919) v. 78 I hear that a new order of Knighthood is on the taps O.M.G. (Oh! My God!) Shower it on the Admiralty!!
1994 Re: AW: Ryan & Lorna..NOT in rec.arts.tv.soaps (Usenet newsgroup) 23 Sept. OMG! what did I say?
1997 C. Parker Joy of Cybersex 183 OMG Oh my God!
2006 Elle Girl Mar. 134/4 Is this ridiculous to anyone else Are we dreaming OMG, What is going on
2009 R. V. Kozinets Netnography x. 183 All of it blogged and microblogged and promoted with lots of omgs and lols.
2010 Nottingham Post (Nexis) 9 Dec. 15 OMG, it's Ken Barlow on my phone; I'm not worthy!

B. adj.
Causing or characterized by a reaction of astonishment, excitement, etc.; that might cause one to exclaim "oh my God!"
1982 Los Angeles Times 15 Jan. i. 4/5 (advt.) You'll find the season's best tangelos and tangerines now at our famous produce stalls. We spotted some marked O-M-G Tangelos, about the biggest we've seen.
1999 OMG! Chicago 8/19 in alt.music.s-mclachlan (Usenet newsgroup) 20 Aug. She stood at the corner of the stage with this 'girly' happy OMG face.
2007 Houston Chron. (3 Star ed.) (Nexis) 31 July (Business section) 1 The iPhone is a very different device, and when you first start working with it, there's definitely an OMG! effect.

OMG! It dates back to 1917!

OK, it's your turn: get out your library card, go to the top of any Takoma Park Library page (takomapark.info), click on Online → Research; Dictionaries and Encyclopedias → Oxford English Dictionary.

Then click on the link at the top right "Already a subscriber" and a little pop-up window will appear. On the right side under "Library Account," there is a space for you to type in your library card barcode (without spaces). Click "Sign In" and you will have the great and venerable OED literally at your fingertips. Happy desert island reading!

Note: the Auden quote is from The Dyer"s Hand & other essays, p. 4.

Posted by library at 12:20 PM

April 11, 2020

Exploring our digital collections? Don't miss ImageQuest!

Here are some small samples of what are full-sized pictures. There are millions of images and we have paid for your right to use whatever you find at ImageQuest (though not for commercial purposes).

HTML5 IconHTML5 IconHTML5 Icon

HTML5 IconHTML5 IconHTML5 Icon

Posted by library at 02:32 PM

April 07, 2020

Your favorite children's books? Please let us know

Share the titles of your favorite children's books with us! Just send us the title and 1-4 sentences as to why it's a favorite. All ages can participate -parents of babies and toddlers, just write about a book they ask for again and again. Your write-up should be sent, by Friday 4/10, to Karen.. We'll publish some write-ups in the May city newsletter as part of our celebration of Children's Book Week (May 4-10). Others will be posted on our Facebook page.

Send an e-mail to Karen: KAREN MACPHERSON

Posted by library at 04:04 PM
Recent Entries
Problems with your library card?
The Oxford English Dictionary: Desert Island Reading from the Takoma Park Library
Exploring our digital collections? Don't miss ImageQuest!
Your favorite children's books? Please let us know
Other Web Logs
Library News
Teen Book Buzz
City News Pages
May 2020
April 2020
March 2020
February 2020
January 2020
December 2019
November 2019
October 2019
September 2019
August 2019
July 2019
June 2019
May 2019
April 2019
March 2019
February 2019
January 2019
December 2018
November 2018
October 2018
September 2018
August 2018
July 2018
June 2018
May 2018
April 2018
March 2018
February 2018
January 2018
December 2017
November 2017
October 2017
September 2017
August 2017
July 2017
June 2017
May 2017
April 2017
March 2017
February 2017
January 2017
December 2016
November 2016
October 2016
September 2016
August 2016
July 2016
June 2016
May 2016
April 2016
March 2016
February 2016
January 2016
December 2015
November 2015
October 2015
September 2015
August 2015
July 2015
May 2015
April 2015
March 2015
February 2015
January 2015
December 2014
November 2014
October 2014
September 2014
August 2014
July 2014
May 2014
April 2014
March 2014
February 2014
January 2014
December 2013
November 2013
October 2013
September 2013
August 2013
July 2013
May 2013
April 2013
March 2013
January 2013
December 2012
November 2012
October 2012
September 2012
August 2012
July 2012
June 2012
May 2012
April 2012
March 2012
February 2012
January 2012
December 2011
November 2011
October 2011
September 2011
August 2011
July 2011
June 2011
May 2011
April 2011
March 2011
January 2011
December 2010
November 2010
October 2010
September 2010
August 2010
July 2010
June 2010
May 2010
April 2010
March 2010
February 2010
January 2010
December 2009
November 2009
October 2009
September 2009
August 2009
July 2009
June 2009
May 2009
April 2009
March 2009
February 2009
January 2009
December 2008
November 2008
October 2008
September 2008
August 2008
June 2008
May 2008
April 2008
March 2008
February 2008
January 2008
December 2007
November 2007
October 2007
September 2007
August 2007
July 2007
June 2007
May 2007
April 2007
March 2007
February 2007
January 2007
December 2006
November 2006
October 2006
September 2006
August 2006
July 2006
June 2006
May 2006
April 2006
March 2006
February 2006
January 2006
December 2005
November 2005
October 2005
September 2005
August 2005
July 2005
June 2005
May 2005
April 2005
March 2005
February 2005
January 2005
December 2004
October 2004
September 2004
August 2004
July 2004
June 2004
May 2004
April 2004
Call the desk at 301-891-7259
Contact the director by e-mail