Welcome to The Yocum Library of Reading Area Community College's Blog!

For many years we have published a print newsletter for the RACC community that provided information on the library's staff, resources, and services. In order to provide information on a more timely basis, we decided to switch to the blog format. We hope that you enjoy learning more about The Yocum Library of RACC.

Sunday, August 2, 2015

Saturday, August 1, 2015

Word of the Day


1. before a meal, especially before dinner; anteprandial: a preprandial apéritif.

I am now reaching the end of my usual preprandial walk.
-- Vladimir Nabokov, Look at the Harlequins!, 1974

Preprandial came to English in the early 1800s from the Latin prandium meaning "luncheon, meal."


Daily Writing Tips

*Barbecue vs. Barbeque
By Maeve Maddox

We all have our lists of language peeves. Most likely, no two of our lists are the same.

The reader whose email prompted this post can’t stand the spelling barbeque:

One of my pet hates (I have more than a few) is “barbeque”. When I hear that this spelling…has entered into common usage I become uncommonly angry. I have entered it into the NGram and [discovered] the wrong spelling has gradually gained ground and the right spelling is declining. Is this the future of language?

I can sympathize with the pain a fellow language lover feels when faced with one of his peeves, but I have to admit that barbeque doesn’t even register as a “one” on my scale of linguistic suffering.

I grew up in a town in which the places specializing in this type of cooking spell it Bar-B-Q on their signs and BBQ on their menus. Barbeque looks fine to me.

The first glimmer of barbeque on the Ngram Viewer shows in 1893. BBQ is there as early as 1889. Barbeque begins its rise in the 1960s; BBQ in the 1970s. Barbecue, however, remains far and away the most common spelling in printed books.

Something that may have contributed to the popularization of the barbeque spelling could be a false etymology that once made the rounds on the Web and may pre-date email hoaxes. According to this creative explanation, the word derives from a French practice of roasting a goat whole, “from beard to tail,” i.e., “barbe (beard) à (to) queue (tail).

In fact, barbecue entered English as a borrowing from Spanish barbacoa. The word went through various spelling permutations before settling down to the standard spelling of barbecue. The OED shows spellings documented at different dates:

Barbacu (1661)
Barbicu (1690)
Barbecu (1697)
Barbicue (1773)

In his diaries, George Washington (1732-1799) spelled it both Barbicue and Barbecue.

The Spanish got the word from the Arawakan word barbakoa, “framework of sticks.” This was a raised wood structure that served two functions for the Indians: 1. to sleep on; 2. to cure meat on.

The meaning “an outdoor meal of roasted meat or fish as a social entertainment” is from 1733. The meaning “a grill for cooking over an open fire” dates from 1931.

The verb “to barbecue” has been in use since 1690, but its first meaning was “to dry or cure meat.” Now it means “to broil or roast.”

A Google search brings up more hits for barbecue, but barbeque is not far behind:

barbecue 13,200,000
barbeque 12,400,000

Bottom line: The standard spelling is barbecue, but barbeque is a recognized North American variant.

British speakers, including Australians, are advised to stick to barbecue, but Americans and Canadians have the option to spell it either way: Merriam-Webster and the Oxford Canadian Dictionary of Current English both list barbeque without prejudice.


The Yocum Library

A copy of this information may be picked up at the library service desk.

Pun Humor

Friday, July 31, 2015

This Day In History - July 31

July 31, 1703:
Daniel Defoe is put in the pillory

On this day, Daniel Defoe is put in the pillory as punishment for seditious libel, brought about by the publication of a politically satirical pamphlet.

Defoe's middle-class father had hoped Defoe would enter the ministry, but Defoe decided to become a merchant instead. After he went bankrupt in 1692, he turned to political pamphleteering to support himself.

A deft writer, Defoe's pamphlets were highly effective in moving readers. His pamphlet The Shortest Way with Dissenters was an attack on High Churchman, satirically written as if from the High Church point of view but extending their arguments to the point of foolishness.

Both sides of the dispute, Dissenters and High Church alike, took the pamphlet seriously, and both sides were outraged to learn it was a hoax. Defoe was arrested for seditious libel in May 1703. While awaiting his punishment, he wrote the spirited "Hymn to the Pillory." The public sympathized with Defoe and threw flowers, instead of the customary rocks, at him while he stood in the pillory.

He was sent back to Newgate Prison, from which Robert Harley, the future Earl of Oxford, obtained his release. Harley hired Defoe as a political writer and spy. To this end, Defoe set up the Review, which he edited and wrote from 1704 to 1713.

It wasn't until he was nearly 60 that he began writing fiction. In 1719, The Life and Strange Adventures of Robinson Crusoe, Defoe's fictional account of a shipwrecked sailor who spent 28 years on a desert island, was published. His other works include Moll Flanders (1722) and Roxana (1724). He died in London in 1731.


Meet the Yocum Staff - Antonina Mollica

Name: Antonina "Nina" Mollica
Position in Library: Academic Testing Center Proctor.
Educational Background: Kutztown University: MS Telecommunications and M.Ed. Counseling in Student Affairs in Higher Education. Alvernia University: BA Communications.
Favorite Books: If You Hold My Hand (J. Harker), Love You Forever (R. Munsch), and A Wrinkle in Time (M. L'Engle.)
Favorite Movie: The Miracle Worker .
Favorite Area of Library: Yocum is so wonderful, I don't have just one favorite area!
Special Interest: Celtic music, care for the elderly, and the art of teaching.
Hobby: Reading.

History Film Corps

Take a look back into the history of WWII films, shot by non-professional service personal serving on the front lines.

Across America, pieces of history are locked away on film reels—unique views of the past all too often left forgotten in garages and attics. HISTORY Film Corps is the product of a nationwide search for World War II films, not those commissioned by governments or shot by journalists, but those captured by the men and women on the front lines.

Preserving and sharing the war experiences of soldiers, medics, aviators, photographers, sailors and more, these films are an important and deeply personal part of America’s historical record.

Thursday, July 30, 2015

5 Fun Ways to Say Boring

[ahn-wee, ahn-wee]
Not all boredom is created equal: some of it is fleeting and circumstantial, and some of it teeters on existential crisis. Ennui tends toward the latter--or at least it used to. Derived from the French verb enuier meaning "to annoy," its peak usage was in Victorian and Romantic literature to express a profound sense of weariness, even a spiritual emptiness or alienation from one's surroundings and time. Nowadays it's used at both ends of the boredom spectrum, but its deep literary history lends even the most shallow disinterest a grandiose air.

Bromide is a chemical compound that was commonly used in sedatives in the 1800 and 1900s. It took on a figurative sense to mean a trite saying or verbal sedative, or a person who is platitudinous and boring, in the early 1900s with help of the U.S. humorist Frank Gelett Burgess, who published a book titled Are You a Bromide? in 1907. The next time a particularly bland work meeting lulls you into a near coma, remember to mentally log it as bromidic just before nodding off.

If your personal brand of boredom stems from a deficit of literal or figurative poetry in your life, this is the word for you. Now commonly used to mean dull, matter-of-fact, or unimaginative, prosaic entered the lexicon as the adjectival form of the word prose--as in not poetry. Its evolution to mean uninspired and commonplace in a broader context feels in many ways like a love letter to the oft-neglected literary genre.

Much like bland and flavorless, insipid is commonly used to describe food that leaves your tastebuds wanting more, but it's also used in an abstract sense to describe a person, place or thing that lacks distinction, depth or intrigue. Its versatility can be attributed to its root word, the Latin sapidus, which translates to well-tasted, wise, or prudent. The next time you find yourself surrounded by droning company and uninspired cuisine (perhaps on your next flight?) liven things up with this handy twofer.

[plat-i-tood-n-uhs, -tyood-]
Stemming from the French word for flat, plat (think plateau), platitudinous is used most frequently to refer to lackluster or trite use of language. A political speech brimming with tiresome rhetoric and cliches can be said to be platitudinous, but with this illuminating descriptor in your word arsenal, your bemoaning of the speech doesn't have to be.


Library Humor

Word of the Day


1. without interest, vigor, or determination; listless; lethargic: a lackadaisical attempt.
2. lazy; indolent: a lackadaisical fellow.

He had for a moment been very angry when his friend had told him that he could not sympathise with a lackadaisical lover. It was an ill-natured word. He felt it to be so when he heard it, and so he continued to think during the whole of the half-hour that he sat in that chair.
-- Anthony Trollope, The Small House at Allington, 1864

Lackadaisical stems from the archaic term lackadaisy, a variant of lackaday. These in turn came from an alteration of the phrase alack the day, an interjection used as an exclamation of sorrow, regret, or dismay.


Wednesday, July 29, 2015

7 Words the Internet Reinvented

Friend was used as a verb as early as the 13th century, but it fell out of use until recently. The popularity of social networking sites such as Facebook gave the verb friend new meaning. If you add someone to your social network, you are friending that lucky soul. Removing someone from your network can be called unfriending. Unfriend is another word that's existed in English since the 13th century when it was used as a noun to mean "an enemy."

In Internet slang, a troll is a person who posts deliberately antagonizing comments. Though the term troll evokes the ugly creatures featured in Scandinavian folklore, the origin of Internet trolling is far likelier from an Old French term that was used in the context of fishing. On the water, a troll is a lure used to bait fish. Perhaps the best advice for dealing with trolls is offered by the hacktivist group Anonymous: "Do not argue with trolls--it means they win."

English speakers have been liking since the 9th century, and having likes and dislikes since the 15th century. But the rise of social media has given the term a new relevance. On various social networks, if you wish to show appreciation for a post, you can like it. Sometimes called hearting, favoriting, or upvoting, liking has become an important social-media metric.

Sometimes also called hyperlinks and URLs, links are objects, often text or images, that when clicked, bring you to another location on the web. Likely hailing from the Proto-Indo-European kleng meaning "to bend, turn," this term emerged in English in the 15th century, and was used early on to describe loops forming a chain. Links can take you down a never-ending path of Internet rabbit holes, so be careful before you click.

While the noun address has been used by English speakers since the 1400s, the sense of "the place or the name of the place where a person, organization, or the like is located" did not surface until the 1600s. In the 1940s, a new technological sense of address emerged, making way for the introduction of such compounds as email address, web address, and IP address, all pointing to virtual locations.

When surf first entered English in the 1600s, it referred to waves or the movement of waves. The late 1800s saw a new sense of the word: "to ride or be carried on the breaking crest of a wave, esp. using a surfboard." In the 1980s this sense was metaphorically extended to apply to channel-surfing on cable television. By the early '90s, this sense was further extended to the Internet. However, 20 years later, this term has lost its hipness, and Internet users today might opt for a more tongue-in-check expression such as cyberloafing.

When surf first entered English in the 1600s, it referred to waves or the movement of waves. The late 1800s saw a new sense of the word: "to ride or be carried on the breaking crest of a wave, esp. using a surfboard." In the 1980s this sense was metaphorically extended to apply to channel-surfing on cable television. By the early '90s, this sense was further extended to the Internet. However, 20 years later, this term has lost its hipness, and Internet users today might opt for a more tongue-in-check expression such as cyberloafing.

If you block someone on a social network, you make various traces of your online presence invisible to that person so that he or she cannot interact with you. This sense only came about recently, though English speakers have been blocking since the 16th century. Block came to English directly from the Old French block meaning "log." The noun sense of block existed in English over 200 years before the verb came along.


Word of the Day

\ahn-WEE, AHN-wee; French ahn-NWEE\

1. a feeling of utter weariness and discontent resulting from satiety or lack of interest; boredom: The endless lecture produced an unbearable ennui.

A life of constant inaction, bodily and mental, the friction of ceaseless ennui and discontent, united to the ordinary weakness which attended the period of maternity,—in course of a few years changed the blooming young belle into a yellow, faded, sickly woman…
-- Harriet Beecher Stowe, Uncle Tom's Cabin, 1852

Ennui entered English in the late 1600s and ultimately comes from the Old French enui meaning "displeasure." It is etymologically related to the word annoy.

More From Dictionary.com

Meet the Yocum Staff - Ryan Matz

Name: Ryan Matz
Position in Library: Educational Media Specialist
Educational Background: Associates of Applied Science in Radio/TV Production with a specialized diploma in Multimedia Arts. I have 2 Telly Awards and 8 Lehigh Valley Video Awards Favorite Book: JACKIE GLEASON: THE GREAT ONE by Dina-Marie Kulzer
Favorite Movie: Singing in the Rain and Rebel Without a Cause.
Favorite Area of Library: The alcove seating under the steps to the 3rd floor.
Special Interest: Exploring new places and meeting new people.
Hobby: Collecting movie star pictures from the 20’s-50’s along with Bakelite/wood tube radios.

Ryan's Office is Y-209 - MEDIA SERVICES - Educational Media Services Technician

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

The Quotable Book Lover

* "Medicine for the soul."
Inscription over the door of the Library at Thebes.

*The Quotable Book Lover, edited by Ben Jacobs & Helena Hjalmarsson

What Is the Real Name of the #?

*On Facebook and Twitter, you tag your friends with the @symbol and topics with the #. If you see something that says #WordoftheDay, the tweet or post will concern the Word of the Day in some way. But what do you call the # symbol? Where did it come from? Its myriad names and its appearance are intertwined.

The # symbol is commonly called the pound sign, number sign and more recently the hashtag. It is called the pound sign because the symbol comes from the abbreviation for weight, lb, or “libra pondo” literally “pound by weight” in Latin. When writing lb, it was not uncommon for scribes to cross the letters across the top with a line across the top, like a t. See the example below.

The phrase “number sign” arose in Britain because “pound sign” could easily be confused with the British currency. The # symbol is sometimes spoken as the word “number” as in the word “number two pencil.”

But what is its official name? The octothorpe. What does that mean? It’s actually a made-up word. It was invented in the same laboratories where the telephone came from. The scientists at Bell Laboratories modified the telephone keypad in the early 1960s and added the # symbol to send instructions to the telephone operating system. Since the # symbol didn’t have a name, the technicians made one up. They knew it should be called “octo-” something because it has eight ends around the edge. But how to make “octo” into a noun? What happened next is not entirely clear. According to one report, Bell Lab employee Don MacPherson named it after the Olympian Jim Thorpe. Another former employee claims it was a nonsense word that is a joke. Another unverifiable report is much more etymologically satisfying. The Old Norse word “thorpe” meant “farm or field”, so octothorpe literally means “eight fields.”

The word hash predates these other terms but was not very popular until recently. (Maybe because it reminds us of mediocre diner food.) It first referred to stripes on military jackets as early as 1910. In the 1980s, it came to refer to the # symbol. Since the ascent of social media, hashtag has become the favored word for the # symbol.

Similar symbols appear in many other places. Musicians recognize # as the sharp symbol, denoting a note one half step higher. Copy editors see a symbol meaning “space,” as in “add a space between two sentences.” In computer code, the # symbol means that everything that follows is only comment, not instructions.


Word of the Day


1. to raise irritating and trivial objections; find fault with unnecessarily (usually followed by at or about ): He finds something to cavil at in everything I say.
2. to oppose by inconsequential, frivolous, or sham objections: to cavil each item of a proposed agenda.

During the hectic middle decades of the 20th century, from the end of the Great Depression through the Second World War and into the 1950s, a small circle of intellectuals gathered weekly in and around the University of Oxford to drink, smoke, quip, cavil, read aloud their works in progress, and endure or enjoy with as much grace as they could muster the sometimes blistering critiques that followed.
-- Philip Zaleski and Carol Zaleski, "Oxford's Influential Inklings," The Chronicle of Higher Education, May 8, 2015

Cavil entered English in the mid-1500s from the Latin cavillārī meaning "to jeer, scoff, quibble."


Monday, July 27, 2015

Scheduled Classes for Computers

Reserved — Moyer
Monday, July 27, 12:00 p.m. – 1:30 p.m.
Where: Yocum Instruction Area

Word of the Day

\SWOSH-buhk-ler, SWAWSH-\

1. a swaggering swordsman, soldier, or adventurer; daredevil.

I would not give much for that man's life. The hand of every swashbuckler in the empire would be against him.
-- A.B. Mitford, “Kazuma's Revenge,” Tales of Old Japan, 1871

Swashbuckler came to English in the mid-1500s. The swash element of this word references the noise of a sword as it moves through the air and strikes a target.


Meet the Yocum Staff- Brenna J. Corbit

Name: Brenna J. Corbit
Position in Library: Technical Services Librarian
Educational Background: MLIS Library Science (academic), University of Pittsburgh 2006; MA English Literature, Kutztown 2003; BA English and Communication, Alvernia 2001; AA, Liberal Arts, Reading Area Community College 2000
Favorite Book: A Christmas Carol
Favorite Movie: It’s a Wonderful Life
Favorite Area of Library: Being in my office cataloging the new books.
Special Interests: Reading―especially Romantic Period and 19th Century literature; watching and learning about birds—especially ravens and crows; researching various family genealogies; cooking and eating spicy and ethnic cuisine; drinking coffees and teas; sipping red zinfandel or a good bourbon on the rocks; walking through nature; watching old movies with my sweetheart; writing with fountain pens; enjoying autumn and winter’s chill; sitting beneath a fully-lit Christmas tree; socializing with my library friends; and most of all, being with my family and my soul-mate.
Hobbies: Origami, writing poetry, art, cooking, genealogy.

Library Humor

Word of the Day


1. light, bantering talk or writing.
2. a frivolous or flippant style of treating a subject.

Now go away then, and leave me alone. I don't want any more of your meretricious persiflage.
-- D.H. Lawrence, Women in Love, 1920

Persiflage entered English in the 1750s. It is derived from the French word persifler meaning "to banter."