Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Holidays and Observances for December 10 2014

Dewey Decimal System Day

December 10th is Dewey Decimal System Day! This day is dedicated to the Dewey Decimal System, the first widely accepted method of organizing books so that they can be easily located in libraries. It is set on the birth anniversary of American librarian Melvil Dewey (1851-1931). 

The Dewey Decimal Classification (DDC), or Dewey Decimal System, is a proprietary library classification system first published in the United States by Melvil Dewey in 1876. It has been revised and expanded through 23 major editions, the latest issued in 2011, and has grown from a four-page pamphlet in 1876 with fewer than 1,000 classes to a four volume set. It is also available in an abridged version suitable for smaller libraries. It is currently maintained by theOnline Computer Library Center (OCLC), a library research center. OCLC licenses access to an online version, WebDewey, for catalogers, and has an experimental linked data version on the Web with open access.

The Decimal Classification introduced the concepts of relative location and relative index which allow new books to be added to a library in their appropriate location based on subject. Libraries previously had given books permanent shelf locations that were related to the order of acquisition rather than topic. The classification's notation makes use of three-digit Arabic numerals for main classes, with fractional decimals allowing expansion for further detail. A library assigns a classification number that unambiguously locates a particular volume in a position relative to other books in the library based on its subject matter. This makes it possible to find any particular book using the number, and to return it to its proper place on the library shelves. The classification system is used in 200,000 libraries in at least 135 countries.

Melvil Dewey (1851–1931) was an American librarian and self-declared reformer. He is best known for the Decimal System that he created, but he also was a founding member of the American Library Association and can be credited with the promotion of card systems in libraries and business. He developed the ideas for his library classification system in 1873 while working at Amherst College library. He applied the classification to the books in that library, until in 1876 he had a first version of the classification. In 1876, he published the classification in pamphlet form with the title A Classification and Subject Index for Cataloging and Arranging the Books and Pamphlets of a Library. He used the pamphlet, published in more than one version during the year, to solicit comments from other librarians. It is not known who received copies or how many commented as only one copy with comments has survived, that of Ernest Cushing Richardson. His classification system was mentioned in an article in the first issue of the Library Journal and in an article by Dewey in the Department of Education publication "Public Libraries in America" in 1876. In March 1876, he applied for, and received copyright on the first edition of the index. The edition was 44 pages in length, with 2,000 index entries, and was printed in 200 copies.

Human Rights Day

The United Nations' (UN) Human Rights Day is annually observed December 10 to mark the anniversary of the presentation of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

Events focused on the Universal Declaration of Human Rights are held worldwide on and around December 10. Many events aim to educate people, especially children and teenagers, on their human rights and the importance of upholding these in their own communities and further afield.

The day may also include protests to alert people of circumstances in parts of the world where the Universal Declaration of Human Rights is not recognized or respected, or where the importance of these rights are not considered to be important. Cultural events are also organized to celebrate the importance of human rights through music, dance, drama or fine art.

The Universal Declaration of Human Rights was drafted between January 1947 and December 1948. It aimed to form a basis for human rights all over the world and represented a significant change of direction from events during World War II and the continuing colonialism that was rife in the world at the time. The Universal Declaration of Human Rights is considered as the most translated document in modern history. It is available in more than 360 languages and new translations are still being added.

The UN General Assembly adopted and proclaimed the Universal Declaration of Human Rights at the Palais de Chaillot in Paris, France, on the December 10, 1948. All states and interested organizations were invited to mark December 10 as Human Rights Day at a UN meeting on December 4, 1950. It was first observed on December 10 that year and has been observed each year on the same date. Each year Human Rights Day has a theme. Some of these themes have focused on people knowing their human rights or the importance of human rights education.

The UN symbol (an azimuthal equidistant projection of the globe centered on the North Pole surrounded by olive branches) is often associated with Human Rights Day. Copies of the whole Universal Declaration of Human Rights are also regarded as symbolic of Human Rights Day and are often distributed on or around December 10.

Jane Addams Day

Jane Addams (1860-1935) was born in Cedarville, Illinois in a well-off Quaker family. After her studies, she visited Toynbee Hall in London and was inspired to develop a very similar initiative in Chicago in 1889. Together with her friend Ellen Starr, she started Hull House, the first settlement house in Near West Side, a neighborhood with plenty of European immigrants. It quickly developed into a real action center with plenty of room for children, education for adults, culture and focus on social progress. Following the model of Toynbee Hall, “Addams refused to call her neighbors clients or cases and could not fully respect younger social workers, for whom service meant an eight-hour day and a home far from the slums.” (Franklin, 1986) Addams not only worked with the poor but also engaged in political action aimed at establishing new laws to protect them.

Addams assembled a group of very committed young women. They became the female face of the democratisation movement in the Progressive Era. From 1900 onwards the United States saw a wave of interest in women’s emancipation, new social laws and attention paid to social and racial tensions. The Hull House group professionalised the contribution of women in social work. With their neighbourhood work, they contributed to a more structural political focus.
They started from a profound analysis of real situations and by doing so contributed to later social science research. In the Hull House maps and papers they reported on the effects of concentration of different ethnicities and their living conditions, about labour circumstances in the sweatshops, about child labour. This work carried out by Julia Lathrop and Florence Kelley, among others. This approach to ‘mapping’ contributed to the emergence of the famous Chicago school in urban sociology with key figures like George Herbert Mead and Robert E. Park. For the academic researchers, Addams and her colleagues may have been seen just as data collectors, but for their own purposes their research was a tool and starting point for social action.

With the strong combination of professional interventions and structured research, Addams succeeded in establishing a specific basis for American social work which raised international interest. From the very beginning, Hull House received numerous visitors from abroad and many initiatives were launched there. Julia Lathrop later became the first director of the Children’s Federal Bureau (1912). She succeeded in raising concerns about child labor and child deaths.

The power of the settlement work translated to a broad social engagement of Jane Addams in which she combined here work for Hull House with a comparably passionate contribution to the peace movement during the First World War. That earned her the nickname Saint Jane. Four years before her death, she received the Nobel Prize for peace (1931). 

National Lager Day

Raise a glass - December 10 is National Lager Day!

Despite being the most popular type of beer in the world, lager is a relative newcomer to the beer scene when compared with ale.

Ale uses the strain of yeast that ferments at the surface of the fermenting vessel (Saccharomyces cerevisiae), which was also the original strain used to produce beer in ancient Babylon more than 5,000 years ago.

Lager uses the strain of yeast that ferments at the bottom of the fermenting vessel for longer periods of time and in colder temperatures (Saccharomyces uvarum). In medieval Bavaria, brewers noticed that their beer continued to ferment when stored in caves during the long winter. This resulted in lagerbier or German for “beer brewed for keeping.”

The actual strain of yeast wouldn’t be identified by scientists until the 19th century, about the same time that German immigrants introduced the United States to lager-style beer. Thus the American Lager was born, and American breweries never looked back.

Helped along by its crisp taste and smooth finish, lager has come a long way in a relatively short period of time. Whether downing a frosty pint, pairing a glass with a plate of buffalo wings or pouring a can into a recipe for beer battered fish, raise a glass to the unicellular organism that made it all possible.

Hip hip hooray for Saccharomyces uvarum!

Nobel Prize Day

The Nobel Prize is a set of annual international awards bestowed in a number of categories by Swedish and Norwegian committees in recognition of cultural and/or scientific advances. The will of the Swedish inventor Alfred Nobel established the prizes in 1895. The prizes in Physics, Chemistry, Physiology or Medicine, Literature, and Peace were first awarded in 1901. The related Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Sciences was created in 1968. Between 1901 and 2012, the Nobel Prizes and the Prize in Economic Sciences were awarded 555 times to 856 people and organizations. With some receiving the Nobel Prize more than once, this makes a total of 835 individuals (791 men and 44 women) and 21 organizations.

The Peace Prize is awarded in Oslo, Norway, while the other prizes are awarded in Stockholm, Sweden. The Nobel Prize is widely regarded as the most prestigious award available in the fields of literature, medicine, physics, chemistry, peace, and economics.

The Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences awards the Nobel Prize in Physics, the Nobel Prize in Chemistry, and the Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Sciences; the Nobel Assembly at Karolinska Institutet awards the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine; the Swedish Academy grants the Nobel Prize in Literature; and the Nobel Peace Prize is awarded not by a Swedish organisation but by the Norwegian Nobel Committee.

The various prizes are awarded yearly. Each recipient, or laureate, receives a gold medal, a diploma and a sum of money, which is decided by the Nobel Foundation. As of 2012, each prize was worth 8 million SEK (c.US$1.2 million, €0.93 million). The prize is not awarded posthumously; however, if a person is awarded a prize and dies before receiving it, the prize may still be presented. Though the average number of laureates per prize increased substantially during the 20th century, a prize may not be shared among more than three people.

Alfred Nobel was born on 21 October 1833 in Stockholm, Sweden, into a family of engineers. He was a chemist, engineer, and inventor. In 1894, Nobel purchased the Bofors iron and steel mill, which he made into a major armaments manufacturer. Nobel also invented ballistite. This invention was a precursor to many smokeless military explosives, especially the British smokeless powder cordite. As a consequence of his patent claims, Nobel was eventually involved in a patent infringement lawsuit over cordite. Nobel amassed a fortune during his lifetime, with most of his wealth from his 355 inventions, of which dynamite is the most famous.

In 1888, Nobel was astonished to read his own obituary, titled The merchant of death is dead, in a French newspaper. As it was Alfred's brother Ludvig who had died, the obituary was eight years premature. The article disconcerted Nobel and made him apprehensive about how he would be remembered. This inspired him to change his will. On 10 December 1896, Alfred Nobel died in his villa in San Remo, Italy, from a cerebral haemorrhage. He was 63 years old.

Nobel wrote several wills during his lifetime. He composed the last over a year before he died, signing it at the Swedish–Norwegian Club in Paris on 27 November 1895. To widespread astonishment, Nobel's last will specified that his fortune be used to create a series of prizes for those who confer the "greatest benefit on mankind" in physics, chemistry, peace, physiology or medicine, and literature. Nobel bequeathed 94% of his total assets, 31 million SEK (c. US$186 million, €150 million in 2008), to establish the five Nobel Prizes. Because of skepticism surrounding the will, it was not until 26 April 1897 that it was approved by the Storting in Norway. The executors of Nobel's will, Ragnar Sohlman and Rudolf Lilljequist, formed the Nobel Foundation to take care of Nobel's fortune and organize the award of prizes.

Nobel's instructions named a Norwegian Nobel Committee to award the Peace Prize, the members of whom were appointed shortly after the will was approved in April 1897. Soon thereafter, the other prize-awarding organisations were designated or established. These were Karolinska Institutet on 7 June, the Swedish Academy on 9 June, and the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences on 11 June. The Nobel Foundation reached an agreement on guidelines for how the prizes should be awarded; and, in 1900, the Nobel Foundation's newly created statutes were promulgated by King Oscar II. In 1905, the personal union between Sweden and Norway was dissolved. Thereafter, Norway's Nobel Committee was responsible for awarding the Nobel Peace Prize and the Swedish institutions retained responsibility for the other prizes.