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Friday, March 27, 2015

Do you have any books on how colors affect people's moods?

The idea that colors have certain mood-altering connotations (for example, that blue is calming or that black evokes power and wealth) is part of the basis of color psychology. People have attempted to use this to their advantage. In the early 2000s, for instance, cities in Scotland and Japan found that installing blue streetlights led to a decrease in street crime and suicide attempts in areas lit by the lamps [source]. Psychologists have also done experiments to find the most alluring color, and they’ve found that people are approached more often and viewed as more attractive when they’re wearing red, even if nothing else is different about them [source].

Our patron was able to borrow Adam Alter’s Drunk Tank Pink from our library. The book takes its title from a bubblegum color, also known as Baker-Miller pink, which was found in the 1970s to calm aggressiveness in prisoners. Not everyone believes in its efficacy - Drs. James E. Gilliam and David Unruh found in their 1988 study that Baker-Miller pink did not directly affect their subjects – but the color still found popularity. The football coaches at Colorado State and the University of Iowa even painted their visitors’ locker rooms pink in the hopes of weakening opposing teams.

There are several other books on color psychology available through CLEVNET, such as Colour Hunting by Jeanne Tan, The Beginner’s Guide to Color Psychology by Angela Wright, and Color: The Secret Influence by Kenneth Fehrman. 

Friday, March 13, 2015

Can I get information about the history of my land?

“I live in Newton Township in Lordstown and I was wondering if there was any way I could get information about the history of the land I live on.”

Our Local History room at the library focuses primarily on the city of Newton Falls, so there was nothing to be found there. Searching online, we did find the website for the Trumbull County Records Center and Archives Department. On the site, there’s a section for maps that goes from 1979 as far back as 1830 (though not all years are represented – there are decades-long gaps between most maps). The maps are organized by township, and each one shows the division of property at that time. The larger plots of land are labeled, presumably with the name of whoever owns the land. The site also includes records of deeds from 1795-1896.

More historical records are available at the Archives Department’s physical archives. The office can be contacted at 330-675-6615. The Trumbull County Historical Society might have some information as well, and they can be reached by phone at 330-394-4653.

For more county history, we have both A Twentieth Century History of Trumbull County, Ohio by Harriet Taylor Upton and History of Trumbull and Mahoning Counties in our reference collection.

Friday, March 6, 2015

What's the difference between a yam and a sweet potato?

“I just bought a sweet potato and it was white on the inside. Does that mean the orange ones are yams? What’s the difference?”

The North Carolina Sweet Potato Commission quickly set the record straight. Sweet potatoes can have orange, white, or purple flesh, and, though the orange ones are often called yams, true yams are a different species of plant altogether. The North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University put together a chart listing the differences. Sweet potatoes are dicots and they’re part of the morning glory family. They originated in South America but can be grown in the United States. Yams, on the other hand, are monocots, part of the genus Dioscorea, and mostly imported from the Caribbean. They originated in Asia and West Africa.

According to Cooking the West African Way by Bertha Vining Montgomery and Constance Nabwire, yams are a staple in West African cooking. They figure into the culture as well and are the focus of harvest festivals like the Iri-Ji (or “new yam”) Festival. 

Unless you’ve gone to a specialty restaurant or grocery store, you may never have eaten a genuine yam. Look closely: the FDA requires sweet potatoes to be labeled as such, and even the cans of candied yams are inscribed with “sweet potato” in small text.