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The Oxford English Dictionary Online

February 19th, 2015 by John Jackson


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If language is a city, as Ralph Waldo Emerson claims, to the building of which every human being has brought a stone, then the Oxford English Dictionary is one of the greatest linguistic urban centers ever constructed. Begun more than a century ago and containing over 600,000 words, the OED is the definitive reference work for understanding the development of the words that make up the English language today.

Students of Whittier College can access both the print copy of the second edition (1989) as well as the online edition, which we will be highlighting in this post. To access the OED Online, jump over to our Databases A-Z list. You will find a link to the dictionary under “General Databases” as well as within the alphabetized tabs at the top. (If you are off-campus or on the “poets” wifi network, use your Whittier ID and password to login.)

The OED seeks to trace the first recorded use of every sense of a word, to show when it entered the language and how its use changed over time. Students who are seeking to learn more about the history of a word or how a word was used at a particular point in time will find the OED most useful. However, it can also be a credible and reliable resource for looking up a word’s current usage.


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Each entry contains a chronological list of the word’s meanings, including quotations to illustrate its usage. Common compounds and derivatives are also listed. For example, the entry for quaker also includes terms such as quaker colour (a subdued color), quaker gun (a dummy gun or cannon), quakerdom (Quakers collectively), and, my personal favorite, quakeristical (of, relating to, or characteristic of a Quaker).


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The etymology of each word (at the top of each entry) details the origin and derivation of the word, whether it was initially borrowed from another language or blended with another word. As you can see in the image above for the word “poet”, it also includes both the British and English pronunciations using standard IPA notation. If you’re not sure how to read the characters of the International Phonetic Alphabet, simply click on the IPA spelling of the word and the OED with give you a helpful pronunciation guide.


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Finally, the OED’s Timeline feature gives you a graphical method for exploring any aspect of English over time: including exploring the language as a whole; English relating to a particular subject area; English used by particular groups; or English derived from other languages and language families.

Whether you prefer to use the print or online version, there is certainly more to explore in the Oxford English Dictionary. We hope you will find it useful to your studies!

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The Almanac of American Politics

January 26th, 2015 by John Jackson

american political cover

Reference & Instruction Librarian John Jackson won’t hesitate to tell you that the The Almanac of American Politics is one of his favorite reference works. Political Science majors and any students taking PLSC 110 or PLSC 202 should definitely make this book part of their information arsenal.

Published biennially, the almanac contains in-depth political profiles of every sitting governor and member of congress.  The work is organized first by state and then by congressional district. Each chapter contains a brief political history of the state that includes prominent politicians, issues, and events that contributed to its current political climate, demographic information and economic data (e.g. racial/ethnic makeup, home values, education levels, number of registered voters), the role the state has played in presidential politics, and districting information, including maps.

political almanac

Biographies of each governor include information on their professional careers, ideologies, election results, significant achievements in office thus far, and contact details (in case you’d like to send them an email or call them up on the phone). Profiles of senators and representatives additionally include ratings by various groups such as the ACLU, the League of Conservative Voters, and the Information Technology Industry Council (to name just a few), a list of committees on which they currently serve, and information on how they voted on key issues during their recent term in office.

political almanac 2

The final section of the almanac contains brief, special features such as the rosters for the House and Senate, a list of all new members, minorities, and women in Congress, the National Journal’s Vote Rating (e.g. most liberal, conservative, and center leaning members of Congress), lists of districts with especially high or low demographics (e.g. largest Hispanic populations, most educated districts), and campaign financing information.

The latest edition (2014) is on order for Wardman Library and should arrive in the next two weeks. Unfortunately, it’s been rumored that it no longer contains campaign spending information. However, interested readers can consult The Campaign Finance Institute and The Center for Responsive Politics for more information.

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Los Angeles in Maps by Glen Creason

January 19th, 2015 by John Jackson


Los Angeles in Maps by Glen Creason, Map Librarian at the Los Angeles Public Library, is a cartographic exploration of the city of Los Angeles and its environs from mid-nineteenth century to the present using over 70 maps from public and private collections. It is an essential resource for Whittier College students researching the historical development of Los Angeles – its land, infrastructure, industries, communities, and sense of place – as well as any student generally interested in urban growth.

Historic Roads to Romance: California's Southern Empire, 1946 (Claude George Putnam)

Historic Roads to Romance: California’s Southern Empire, 1946 (Claude George Putnam)

The first third of the book focuses on the growth of central L.A. and the annexation of surrounding communities. The latter part examines maps that illustrate specific aspects of twentieth century urban growth including water, transit and railways, tourism, and even includes such gems as the 1975 Goez Map Guide to the Murals of East Lost Angeles (p. 176) and the 1987 Literary Map of Los Angeles (p. 178). It includes fire insurance atlases like the Dakin Atlas, which shows the plaza around the original Chinatown (what is now Union Station) and details not only sources of water for each block, but also the use of each building (using quaint terms like “Ill fame,” “Opium Joint,” and “Sal.” for saloon).

Dakin Atlas, 1888 (detail).

Dakin Atlas, 1888 (detail).

Almost every other page contains a beautifully reproduced image of a historic Los Angeles map alongside Cleason’s fluid and lively contextual notes. Additional contributions by Dydia DeLyser, Joe Linton, William J. Warren, and Morgan P. Yates introduce how the mapping of Los Angeles adapted to the influences of tourism, the L.A. river, homes of the stars, and the automobile.

You can find Los Angeles in Maps in the Atlas section on the first floor of Wardman Library. Additional information on L.A. maps is available at the LAPL website (see also the YouTube video below). Students interested in this topic should also check out Derek Hayes’s Historical Atlas of California and his Historic Atlas of the American West

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New Feature: Staff Summer Reads @ Wardman Library

June 28th, 2012 by libuser

Ahhhhh, summer reading! Don’t know about you, but I simply cannot turn down a trashy (auto)biography or coming-of-age novel during this sun-drenched period of bliss! We will be sharing our summer reads here and hope you will join the conversation and share your summer picks with us as well.

Kathy F. kicks off this new feature with her recently finished read of Mr. Fox by Helen Oyeyemi, in which she describes it as “one of the strangest books I’ve ever read.  Fascinating because it morphs as you read it (as do the characters themselves).”

Well, I’m intrigued! Kathy used Link+ to borrow this interesting read from one of our lending libraries. Feel free to use this service for any book you may be searching for.

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Shavontae’s Pick: Interview with the Vampire (DVD)

April 26th, 2012 by libuser

“One of my favorite movies is Interview with the Vampire. I personally  really like this movie. A lot of people who have read the book (which I am  currently reading) and seen the film believe that the book is way better  which is common with most film adaptions. So far from what I’ve read,  the movie does not do Anne Rice’s strong attention to detail much justice.  But if you don’t like reading much and looking for a great movie give it a  watch.”

Thanks Shavontae, we couldn’t agree more. Tom Cruise, Kirsten Dunst, Antonio Banderas, Christian Slater, and Brad Pitt….HELLO!

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New Staff Pick: Inkheart Trilogy

April 23rd, 2012 by libuser

Brina recommends the Inkheart trilogy, comprised of Inkheart (2004), Inkspell (2006), and Inkdeath (2008) by German author Cornelia Funke.

“Although it is generally only found in the children’s section, I love the magical world that Cornelia Funke was able to pull the reader into.  I adore those books that can wrap you into their characters and settings. These books revolve around an abstract view of this perfect feeling. The main character is able to make books come alive by reading aloud. When pushed into an unfamiliar setting, you can feel her uneasiness and learn to cope with the problems at hand with her. I suggest reading these books whenever you have some free time and this summer, while laying out in the sun would be a seemingly perfect time. Inkdeath is my favorite of the series by the way!”

Thanks Brina!

Category: recommendations, staff picks | 1 Comment »

Duncan’s Pick: Game of Thrones (Season One)

April 9th, 2012 by libuser

Duncan recommends the HBO Series Game of Thrones, based on the well known book series A Song of Ice and Fire by George R.R. Martin. He argues the library should own season one of the highly popular series for multiple reasons:

Firstly from an academic perspective Game of Thrones should be added because it provides ample inspiration for writing courses offered by Whittier College. Secondly, it can be used by religion classes to discuss the prevailing religious structure within the series. From a personal enjoyment perspective this television series provides amazing entertainment, making the viewer constantly question their place within the universe.”

Sounds like a compelling argument to me, well done Duncan! Don’t forget you can also watch all the episodes online via HBO.com.

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New Staff Pick: Into the Wild

March 2nd, 2012 by libuser

During her shift at the library, Shelby T. quickly snatched Into the Wild by Jon Krakauer off the re-shelving cart after a student had returned it.

“I could not put it down after I started in, and think I read all 200 pages in a weekend. The language he writes with is so conversational that you can get consumed in his descriptions.”

The library owns a copy of Into the Wild, Into Thin Air, and Under the Banner of Heaven all by Jon Krakauer.

Where will you snag your next great read?

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Pacific Standard Time: New Companion Book to the Current Exhibition

January 26th, 2012 by libuser

Check out Pacific standard time : Los Angeles art, 1945-1980 on the New Books shelf behind the Info Desk:

“This volume is published on the occasion of Pacific Standard Time: Art in L.A. 1945-1980, that accompanies the Getty Research Institute’s exhibition Pacific Standard Time: Crosscurrents in L.A. Painting and Sculpture, 1950-1970, held at the J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles, from 1 October 2011 through 5 February 2012.”–Publisher’s description.

Don’t forget to see the exhibit at the Getty Center while it lasts:


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New Book and DVD Staff Pick!

January 25th, 2012 by libuser

Student assistant, Rachel T. chose East of Eden by John Steinbeck as one of her favorite books. The library owns a copy of the book and DVD for your reading and viewing pleasure.  First published in 1952, the novel brings to life the intricate details of the Salinas Valley and follows the interwoven stories of two families, the Trasks and the Hamiltons.

Rachel also recommends The Virgin Suicides, a 1999 dramatic film written and directed by Sofia Coppola. IMDB describes the storyline as “a group of male friends become obsessed with a group of mysterious sisters who are sheltered by their strict, religious parents after one of them commits suicide.”

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