As you are making your plans for ALA in Las Vegas, be sure to save some time to see more than just the Convention Center and the Strip. Just minutes north of the Las Vegas Strip lies the downtown area of Sin City. Its laid back atmosphere and hip young crowd are drawing more visitors away from the Strip. The last few years have seen a long-awaited revitalization effort taking place in the downtown area of Las Vegas.Vegas [Photo courtesy of]

Thanks to the efforts of many investors and entrepreneurs, downtown is cleaning up its old image and bringing more culture, food, and fun to Sin City. The area hosts a series of events throughout the year, like the Vegas Valley Book Festival each fall, First Friday events each month, Vegas StrEATS Food Truck Festival, and most recently the Life Is Beautiful music festival that featured local artists The Killers. Read More →

FieldTripTitle: Google Field Trip
Cost: Free
Platform: iOS and Android (this review is based on the iOS version)

Originally released for Android devices last year, Google Field Trip is designed to help you find fun things to do, no matter where you may be. With the tagline “It’s your world, explore it,” the app takes advantage of the geolocation features on your smartphone to push notifications to you each time you are near a point of interest. This could be a location where a historical event took place, a museum or even a business such as a local restaurant. The content comes from a host of outside sources, from Zagat’s to Atlas Obscura to TimeOut, which means that you will find a very diverse array of points of interest included.



Users have the ability to control the frequency with which they receive notifications by selecting one of three available settings: Explore, Feeling Lucky and Off (see the screenshot above at the right to see how this works). The app lets you mark attractions as favorites to easily find them later and it can even read information about the location to you if it has detected that you are driving or that you have a headset connected to your smartphone. To work, the app requires that you be logged in and that you enable location information on your device; but if you are willing to do so, it is a fun way to uncover things to do at home or when you travel. And, for the first time ever, this summer Google Field Trips is offering users free admission to 13 museums around the country. So if you live near one of them or will be traveling to those cities, now is a great time to check this app out!

For more app recommendations visit the YALSA App of the Week Archive. If you have an app you think we should review, let us know!

When visiting the Washington D.C. area this June for ALA’s Annual Conference, fans of this country’s Colonial history, or fans of forensic science will want to book time for a trip to the Smithsonian: National Museum of Natural History to see Written in Bone: Forensic Files of the 17th Century Chesapeake. The exhibit runs through February 6, 2011, but why wait?

Forensic Anthropologist, Doug Owsley, provides an excellent online introduction to the exhibit and mentions two of the not-to-be missed “bone biographies” featured. He also mentions the forensic anthropology lab, which is open for self-guided, hands-on exploration and is also available for more traditional class-oriented school programs. Check into the details for the lab on the website, especially if you are bringing a group.

Whether you are a Maryland/Virginia history buff, a Forensic Files fanatic or a fan of Sally M. Walker’s award-winning companion volume, Written in Bone: Buried Lives of Jamestown and Colonial Maryland (Carolrhoda Books, 2009), this exhibit has something to capture your attention.

National Museum of Natural History Hours:
Monday to Friday – 7:30 AM – 6:00 PM
Weekends 10:00 AM – 6:00 PM

Better late than never — this is the final post in Museums Month!

One of Washington D.C.’s newest museums is the Newseum, devoted to the history of news.’  The front of the building includes a stone wall engraved with the beginning section of the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution.’  This overlooks Pennsylvania Avenue, making it something every president will see on his or her Inauguration Day parade route.’  The lobby of the museum displays the daily front page of 80 newspapers from around the world.

ALA’s Scholarship Bash will take place at the Newseum this year on Saturday, June 26, from 7 to 11 p.m. Tax-deductible tickets include admission to the Newseum and cost $40 before conference and $45 onsite. Learn more and register at the ALA Annual Scholarship Bash page.

Permanent exhibits within the museum cover a variety of topics, including the flow of news, news in the Web 2.0 world, and photography in the news.’  Major events also receive their own exhibits, including 9/11, Watergate, and the fall of the Berlin Wall.’  (The Newseum claims to hold the largest collection of Berlin Wall pieces outside of Germany!)’  A map displays the current condition of free press around the world, which recently changed a bit according to a story in the Washington Post.’  Special exhibits that are currently on display are devote to Elvis, Sports Illustrated Photography, Tim Russert, and the one I am dying to see – First Dogs: Presidential Pets in the White House.

The Newseum does charge admission but the tickets are good for two days.’  Tickets purchased online receive a 10% discount.’  If you are not able to visit the Newseum, the website is worth exploring.’  It has resources for students and teachers, games, and even a virtual tour of the museum.

Other museums we did not cover during Museum Month but worth checking out include O Mansion, African American Civil War Memorial and Museum, National Museum of Health and Medicine, and the National Museum of Crime and Punishment.

As we get closer to Annual, are there any other topics’  you would like the Local Arrangements Committee to cover?’  Leave a comment and let us know!

The Smithsonian Institution is affectionately called “Our Nation’s Attic” and it certainly earns that title.’  The Smithsonian is made up of several different museums, each holding unique treasures.

Want to see Kermit the Frog, Jerry Seinfeld’s puffy shirt, the Star Spangled Banner, or an Inauguration gown worn by a First Lady?’  Drop by the National Museum of American History.’  This museum has undergone a big face lift, so even if you have been here before, it is worth seeing again.
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Do you have a fondness for James Bond or Jason Bourne?’  If so, you do not want to miss exploring the International Spy Museum while you are in Washington D.C. for Annual this year!

The International Spy Museum is designed to appeal to both older children and adults.’  As you wander through the museum, you’ll’  learn about the history of spying and the many ways it’s been accomplished over the years.’  Could Moses have been a spy?’  The museum covers spying as far back as the Greeks, and moves up to modern day spying and the technology used.’  The gadgets are a lot of fun to look at, and includes such innovations as a lipstick gun, invisible ink, and buttonhole cameras.’  Using film, audio, and other methods, first hand accounts are included throughout so visitors can learn about real events, and maybe even get a glimpse at what might motivate a person to become a spy.’  Interactive exhibits let the visitors get an idea of whether they might make a good spy…or not!

My personal favorite part of the museum was a room devoted to animals who have worked for spies.’  Pictures taken using cameras attached to trained pigeons were amazing.’  If you cannot visit the museum but want to learn more about animal spies, check out the book The Cold War Pigeon Patrols and Other Animal Spies by Danielle Denega.

The International Spy Museum is privately owned and operated, so adult admission is $18.00.’  The museum also has a few special attractions for an extra fee.’  More information can be found at the museum’s website.

Washington D.C. is a wealth of museums that are not to be missed. I think the museums are my favorite part of the city: most are free, they are open almost all year round, they are great no matter what the weather, and they cover a huge range of topics and interests.’  ‘ April is museum month for the Local Arrangements Committee on the YALSA blog, and we will cover just a smattering of the many museums found in’ D.C.

First up is the The United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, which is truly worth your time.’  Located near the National Mall and within walking distance from the Smithsonian metro stop, the museum is dedicated to abolishing hatred and genocide.’  The museum holds both traveling and permanent exhibits.’  One permanent exhibit’ is the Hall of Remembrance, a place of quiet and reflection.’  Visitors can light memorial candles or meditate on the eternal flame.’  Another permanent exhibit tells the chronological story of the Holocaust, using artifacts, visuals, and first person accounts.’  One can tell that much thought and effort was put into creating the exhibit, and it can be a very moving experience.

I’ve visited the museum twice and both times had unique experiences.’  On the first visit, I stopped in the room containing oven doors from a concentration camp.’  Another visiter, and older woman, turned to me said, “I almost ended up in one of those.” She pulled up her sleeve to reveal her number tattoo.’  We stood there while she told me her experience living through the Holocaust.’  Eventually, she moved on with her family and I broke out into tears.

The second time, I was involved in a college production of Joshua Sobol’s play, Ghetto.’  We visited the museum to help the actors and designers conduct research.’  One of the characters in the play is a Jewish police officer named Dessler, and we found a document on display bearing the real Dessler’s signature.’  Seeing a physical reminder that the play was based on real people sent shivers through all of us.

There are other exhibits available in the museum.’  Some rotate the subject matter, other exhibits display propaganda and tell the story of the Holocaust through a child’s eyes.

The U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum is free, although timed passes are required.’  A limited number can be obtained online in advance for a fee ($1.00), otherwise passes are given out on a first-come, first-served basis on the day of entry.

The Museum’s website provides a lot of information to help plan your visit.’  It is also a great resource for research on the Holocaust and genocide.

The New York Times ran a special section on Museums called, Wish You Were Here. “In lean times, museum officials strive to develop creative new strategies to connect with visitors.” While I wish they included a bit more information about all the wonderful partnerships libraries have with museums, nonetheless, there were several ideas noteworthy of reflecting. Read More →