Friday, August 19, 2016

Tips & Assistance for Book Clubs

Are you one of the millions of Americans who belong to a book club?  Does your group struggle to find titles with enough copies for each member to read before the next meeting?  Here are some tips from the Virginia Public Library for making it easier for club members to have their books read before the discussion. 

One which will become obvious once you have tried it often enough, is to not choose the most recent bestseller.  Sure, it looks like a great book, but everyone else in the Arrowhead Library System feels the same way.  For example, John Sandford’s Extreme prey has been on the shelves since April yet still has nearly 30 people waiting to get it from their libraries.  Instead, choose books that have been available for at least six months. 

Another stumbling block can be a lack of titles in the library system.  You may have the perfect title in mind, one that you are sure everyone in your group will love, but if there are six copies in the library system and five of them are owned by high schools—which are closed for the summer—it may not be the right choice. 

Are you out of luck if your choice isn’t readily available from the Virginia Public Library or the Arrowhead Library System?  Most titles are available for purchase online, but not all book club members want to buy books that they are only going to read one time.  There is an alternative: 

Call your library.

Yes, the reference librarian at the Virginia Public Library can usually find a way for each member of your book club to borrow a copy of the selected title.  Once you have a title in mind, find out how many copies are available in the Arrowhead Library System.  If there aren’t enough in the system for your group, call VPL’s reference librarian to find out if there is a way to request enough for everyone to read without being on a long waiting list.  She will be happy to do so. 

Books should be requested four to five weeks prior to the discussion date.  This allows enough time for the books to arrive and be read, without having to be returned before the discussion is held. 

If you have questions about finding a way for all of your book club members to have access to copies of the titles you select, or if you are having a hard time coming up with a title when it is your turn to choose, give us a call at 748-7525.  We’re here for you.

Friday, May 27, 2016

2016 Summer Reading Program

Summer is here, and with it the Virginia Public Library Summer Reading Program! From June 1st to August 5th we have free events and activities at the library for anyone who wants to have fun. If you are in Preschool through 12th grade and are reading books this summer, you can sign up to win awesome prizes at the library!

Boy Reading About Being a Mountain Climber
Being part of the Summer Reading Program is easy! Come in to the library to sign up and pick your reading goal for the summer. Then log the books or pages you’ve read online, and come in to the library to claim your prizes. In addition to standard prizes, you can get entries for weekly drawings – the more you visit the library the more possible prizes you win!

We have lots of wonderful events going on this summer – so many we can’t list all of them here! Here is a good way to know which days will work best for visiting the library:

Froggy Riding His Skateboard with a Bag of Books
Thursdays    June 2nd – August 4th
Special guest performers visit the library! We have musicians, magicians, and even some animal friends visiting – see our brochure or website for more details!

Tuesdays    June 14th – July 12th
Craftastic Tuesdays! Come into the library to make free crafts! We will make crafts that float, crafts that fly, and many more! Visit between 10 and 12 in the morning.

We have lots more happening at the library this summer including visits from Muggsie and Katie the R.E.A.D. dogs, storytimes on Monday and Wednesday, and scavenger hunts, puzzles and challenges all summer long!  If you are looking for a fun free time this summer stop by the Virginia Public Library – we will be happy to see you!

--Stephanie Wichlacz, Children's Librarian

Monday, May 2, 2016

Monthly Hot Topics @ Your Library!

Here are more timely tips from NewsBank, one of many databases that the library subscribes to: 



Civics, Government and Politics: Primaries and Caucuses    
TOPIC:  Republican presidential candidates Ted Cruz and John Kasich have decided to work together in an effort to stop Donald Trump from getting enough delegates to be his party’s candidate.  What is their plan for stopping Donald Trump and how is it working?  What is Bernie Sanders political strategy now that Hillary Clinton has gained a significant lead in the Democratic Party presidential primaries? Why did Ted Cruz select a running mate and who is it?
SEARCH TERMS: Trump AND Cruz AND Kasich AND delegates

ECONOMICS: Puerto Rico Debt Crisis
TOPIC:  The U.S. territory of Puerto Rico is unable to make its bond payment deadline, creating a default that will escalate the severity of its debt crisis.  What created Puerto Rico’s debt problems and how is it trying to resolve them?  What will be some likely impacts of their default on bond payments?  What are some other impacts of their debt crisis?
SEARCH TERMS: Puerto Rico AND debt AND (bond OR bonds)

SOCIAL ISSUES: Refugee Crisis
TOPIC: The refugee crisis persists in Europe. Norway is beginning an experiment in giving refugees money if they’ll voluntary leave the Scandinavian country. What are other countries doing to deal with the refugees? Will the advent of summer mean that the flow of refugees will increase? Do you think Norway’s experiment will succeed?
SEARCH TERMS: Europe AND refugees AND (Syrians OR Somalis OR Afghans)

SPORTS: Olympics in Sight
TOPIC:  The Olympics flame is on the way to Brazil in advance of this summer’s games in Rio de Janeiro. How are the Brazilians doing in their preparations for hosting the games? What health threat worries some of the athletes? What route will the flame take through the large country of Brazil?
SEARCH TERMS: Rio de Janeiro AND Olympics


BUSINESS: Apple iPhone  
TOPIC: The Apple iPhone, the most popular product of the high-tech era has seen sales declines for the second quarter. What are some factors seen as contributing to the decline?  What can be factors that determine the arc of popularity of a good product?
SEARCH TERMS: Apple AND iPhone AND sales

BUSINESS:  Credit Card Chips         
TOPIC: Many people now have credit cards with chips that are designed to be more secure and more efficient in functionality.  Roughly what percentage of retail stories and online shopping sites can accommodate the use of chips and for those that do what have been some issues customers have struggled with?  What are the ways in which these chips are supposed to improve functionality and security?
SEARCH TERMS: credit cards AND (chip OR EMV OR smart card)

BUSINESS: Fuel Consumption Rates
TOPIC:  Mitsubishi Motors has been falsifying its fuel consumption rates for several of its smaller vehicles for a quarter of a century. These numbers were submitted to the Japanese government. Why did they do this? What vehicles were involved? Where did they get the false numbers they submitted?
SEARCH TERMS: Mitsubishi Motors AND mileage

BUSINESS: Mall Opens
TOPIC:  Even though the South African economy is in trouble, the Mall of Africa was very crowded on its opening day. Located outside of Johannesburg, it is the largest mall in Africa. The crowds may have been prompted by opening day sales. Who developed this mall and what are their expectations for it? What international retail brands are in it?
SEARCH TERMS: Mall of Africa

ECONOMICS: Diversification Plans
TOPIC:  The Saudi Arabian government unveiled ambitious plans to diminish the Kingdom’s reliance on its oil and to diversify its economy. It will sell part of the state-owned oil company Aramco and set up a fund for the development of its cities. It also hopes to deal with unemployment. What are some of the specifics of this plan? Who will be in charge of it? What do outside analysts think about its chance of success?
SEARCH TERMS: Saudi Arabia AND reform AND economy

ECONOMICS: Federal Reserve Rates              
TOPIC:  The U.S. economy has slowed down in the first quarter and likewise the Federal Reserve is planning to keep interest rates low.  What are some of the factors that contributed to this? How do interest rates impact the economy?
SEARCH TERMS:  Federal Reserve AND rates AND quarter


Civics, Government and Politics: Panama Papers
TOPIC: A huge number of files from a law firm Mossack Fonseca in Panama that helped facilitate the opening of accounts in banking havens and the creation of dummy companies as fronts for those accounts has revealed the vast worldwide use of these accounts. The files were leaked to a German newspaper and involved wealthy individuals and politicians from around the world. What was Mossack Fonseca’s response to the leaks? Who were some of the individuals named and what was their response to their finances becoming public? What are abuses that can be associated with these accounts?
SEARCH TERMS: Mossack Fonseca AND banks

Civics, Government and Politics: One Person, One Vote    
TOPIC:  The U.S. Supreme Court has held up the One Person One Vote principal in the case of Evenwel vs. Abbott.  What were the specifics of this case and how did a clause in the Fourteenth Amendment influence the court’s decision?  What impact does this decision have on redistricting efforts in Texas and other states?
SEARCH TERMS: Supreme Court AND (Evenwel OR redistrict*) AND Texas
CRIME AND LAW: Gang Arrest            
TOPIC:  New York City made its largest arrest of gang members in city history with the arrest of 120 members of rival gangs.  How was this massive arrest set up and conducted?  What were the crimes that gang members were arrested for and how was the evidence gathered?  What are some general patterns of how gangs operate, make money and maintain power and control?  What areas of New York City were these arrests made and what is the significance of those areas to the gangs that had members arrested?
SEARCH TERMS: gangs AND Bronx AND (arrested OR arrests OR arrest)

CRIME AND LAW: Tax Scams           
TOPIC:  There are a number of ways scammers use the April tax deadline to steal from tax payers, either by identity theft or by impersonating the Internal Revenue Service (IRS).  What are some of the specific tactics used?  What measures have been taken to try to catch them?  What action can you take if you find out you have been scammed by either a scammer fraudulently posing as the IRS or attempting to get your tax refund by stealing your identity?
SEARCH TERMS: (tax OR taxes) AND (scam OR scammers OR scams)

CRIME AND LAW: Execution Trends
TOPIC: The number of executions worldwide has spiked up last year. It is thought that 1,634 people were put to death. This figure does not include executions in China. What countries were most active in executing people? What offenses led to death in these countries? What countries have outlawed the death penalty?
SEARCH TERMS: executions AND rates

EDUCATION: Vocational Education        
TOPIC:  Vocational education is becoming more popular in public high schools and many students want to graduate with job skills if college turns out to be out of reach.  What are some states that are looking at increasing career pathways into the curriculum of the public high school system?  What are states doing to increase vocational school options?
SEARCH TERMS: vocational AND (school OR schools OR education)

EDUCATION: Dress Tips from a Politician
TOPIC:  French Prime Minister Manuel Valls has expressed support for banning the Muslim headscarf from universities. What were the arguments in favor of the ban? What are the arguments against it? What are the chances of the ban happening? In what other areas has France regulated religious dress?
SEARCH TERMS: France AND Muslims AND headscarves

HISTORY: Dating the Scripture
TOPIC:  Recent research on the writings on shards of pottery found in Israel support the idea of somewhat widespread literacy in the region. These mundane texts date to around 600 BCE. How were the texts translated? How could knowledge of this literacy at that date reframe arguments about when the Bible was written? What were the texts about and how do they support the idea of literate population?
SEARCH TERMS: Israel AND literacy AND Bible

HISTORY:  Harriet Tubman
TOPIC: Harriet Tubman will become the first woman and first African-American on printed money when she replaces Andrew Jackson on the $20 bill.  Who was she and what did she do to advance the cause of civil rights for African Americans?  What role did she play in the U.S. Civil War?
SEARCH TERMS: Harriet Tubman AND Andrew Jackson AND bill

SOCIAL ISSUES: Transgender and Bathroom Facilities
TOPIC: A few states and companies are dealing with the issues of how to decide on bathroom facilities to transgender people.  What are some of the bills and laws that different states have tried and what has been the reaction?  What are the policies of these companies and what has been the reaction to those policies?
SEARCH TERMS: transgender AND bathroom

ENVIRONMENT: Houston Floods
TOPIC:  Houston, Texas has suffered the worst flooding in 15 years after being hit by a brutal storm.  How do urban areas handle heavy flooding?  What is some of the worst damage suffered in Houston and what are some of the key processes of recovery after the storm?
SEARCH TERMS: Houston AND (flood OR flooding)

TOPIC: Southern Africa is in the midst of a drought. In addition to its impact on water supplies, it is thought that the drought is increasing food insecurity throughout the region. What is the role played by El Nino in this weather event? How are people surviving this?
SEARCH TERMS: Southern Africa AND drought

ENVIRONMENT: Tigers Population
TOPIC: The number of tigers in the world has risen for the first time in a century. It is thought there are 3,890 of them in the wild. Where do tigers live? How were they counted? Does this rise in numbers mean their long-term survival is assured?
SEARCH TERMS: tigers AND (census OR population)

HEALTH: Assisted Suicide
TOPIC: Canada has passed a law allowing physician assisted suicide, though with some restrictions around eligibility. One of them is a residency requirement. What other requirements are in the law? How does this law compare with the way other countries, and those U.S. states where it is legal, deal with those seeking termination of their lives?
SEARCH TERMS: Canada AND assisted suicide

HEALTH: Vaccination Campaign
TOPIC: Public health authorities in the Philippines are looking to vaccinate 1 million school children against the dengue fever. This disease is spread by the same mosquito that spreads zika. What are the symptoms of dengue and which symptom has contributed to a common name for it? How effective is the vaccines being used in this campaign? How widespread is this disease and how many people are estimated to be affected annually?
SEARCH TERMS: Philippines AND dengue AND vaccinations

HEALTH: Unacceptable Air Quality
TOPIC:  A new report by the American Lung Association has found that over half of the U.S. population is living in potentially dangerous air pollution.  How was the study done and what did the report say about the quality of U.S. air in the future and why?  What places were the most dangerous and what were the least and why?
SEARCH TERMS: American Lung AND population AND air AND pollution

TOPIC:  Solar Impulse 2, the Swiss-made solar-powered aircraft has successfully flown from Hawaii to California making a leg of its journal around the globe.  What was the largest leg of its journey and how did it fare?  How does the solar power work in this particular airplane?  What have been some of the challenges the Solar Impulse 2 has faced in its many pieces of flight to circle the globe?
SEARCH TERMS: Solar Impulse 2

TOPIC:  A Netherlands study reports that people who look old for their age seem to have a variation in gene MC1R. The MC1R gene is also responsible for red hair and pale skin. How was this study done? What are some arguments against the way the research was done?

SPORTS: Masters Tournament
TOPIC: Danny Willett has won professional golf’s famous Master’s Tournament.  What were some of the most impressive shots he made in the tournament?  What were some of the surprising disappointments in the performance of Jordan Spieth? What are some of the previous high points in the careers of these two golfers and what are the strengths of each man’s style of playing?
SEARCH TERMS: Masters Tournament AND Danny Willett

TOPIC: Quarterback for University of California, Jared Goff, was the first draft pick this year and was taken by the Los Angeles Rams.  How does the National Football League (NFL) draft work and how is their process intended to improve parity between the teams that should make for more interesting games?  When did the NFL draft start and what refinements to the process have been made through its history?

SPORTS: Boston Marathon
TOPIC: Two Ethiopians won this year’s Boston Marathon, with Lemi Berhanu Hayle winning the men’s race and Atsede Baysa winning the women’s race in the first Ethiopian sweep in the history of the race.  What are some of the key features of the Boston Marathon that make it a favorite race of runners?  What kind of running program does Ethiopia have and how do they train?
SEARCH TERMS: Boston Marathon AND Ethiopian AND Atsede Baysa

SPORTS: Truth and Justice
TOPIC:  The jury at the Hillsborough Stadium disaster inquest returned a verdict stating that the deaths of the 96 Liverpool football fans were unlawful and that the police services were to blame. The Crown Prosecution Service must now decide if any individual members should be brought to trial. Who was in charge of the police that day and what did his testimony reveal? Who was initially blamed for the disaster and what were the real facts of the case? How vindicated were the families of the victims who have been struggling to determine the truth for 27 years?
SEARCH TERMS: Hillsborough Stadium disaster AND inquest AND verdict

SPORTS: Lawsuit Threatened
TOPIC:  Rafael Nadal is going to sue a former French minister who accused him of using performance enhancing drugs. Roselyne Bachelot surmised that his absence from the tour was probably due to a failed drug test. What type of suit is he filing? Do French laws favor one side or the other in these types of suits? What is Nadal’s explanation for his lengthy absence from competing?
SEARCH TERMS: Rafael Nadal AND Roselyne Bachelot

SPORTS: Golden State Warriors
TOPIC: California’s Golden State Warriors professional basketball team has broken the Chicago Bulls record for best season record.  What is the Golden State record and what was the Chicago Bulls record? When did the Chicago Bulls set the previous record and with who on the team?  Who are the stars of this season’s Golden State Warriors and what are the key strengths of these players and the strengths of the team in general?
SEARCH TERMS: Golden State Warriors AND record AND season

SPORTS: Kobe Bryant
TOPIC:  Kobe Bryant has announced he is retiring from his highly successful 20-year career as shooting guard for the Los Angeles Lakers basketball team.  What have been the high points of his career?  What are the primary strengths and weaknesses of his playing?

TOPIC:  Popular television drama The Good Wife is ending after seven years.  What are the qualities of the drama that has most impressed the critics and the fans? What awards and nominations have been won by this drama?

TOPIC:  Philip Kives created K-Tel International, which used TV commercials to sell such items as the Veg-o-matic and the Miracle Brush. The company also sold compilation albums. He might arguably be called the father of the infomercial.  What was his career before he got into TV sales? How did he get into the TV marketing business? What was notable about the records the company sold?
SEARCH TERMS: Philip Kives AND K-Tel

TOPIC:  A painting that may possibly be a lost work by Caravaggio has been discovered in France. It depicts a scene from the Old Testament. Who is Caravaggio and what is notable about his work? What Biblical scene does it depict? How common are Biblical scenes in Caravaggio’s work?
SEARCH TERMS: Caravaggio

TOPIC:  After taking five years off from her famous self-portraits, photographer Cindy Sherman is having an exhibition at the Metro Pictures gallery in New York City.  What is the theme of this latest exhibition and what are some of the qualities in her work that are consistent or different from her past work?  What are the qualities of her work that have been praised by the critics?
SEARCH TERMS: Cindy Sherman AND photography

LITERATURE: The Sympathizer
TOPIC:  English Professor at the University of Southern California Viet Thanh Nguyen has won the Pulitzer Prize for his first novel The Sympathizer. What is the novel about and what are the qualities that impressed the critics?  What are some of the experiences that he has had growing up that influenced the story of The Sympathizer?
SEARCH TERMS: Viet Thanh Nguyen

LITERATURE: Prize Winner
TOPIC:  Author Meg Rosoff has won the Astrid Lindgren prize for youth literature. The prize is named for the creator of Pippi Longstocking. Who administers this prize and how are winners decided? What books has Rosoff written and how interesting do they sound? What other prizes and awards has she won?
SEARCH TERMS: Meg Rosoff AND Astrid Lindgren prize

TOPIC: Leandro Gato Barbieri was an Argentinian jazz saxophonist. What does his nickname mean and how did he acquire it? What type of jazz and other jazz musicians was he associated with? What film score did he contribute to?
SEARCH TERMS: Gato Barbieri

TOPIC:  The Broadway musical Hamilton by Lin-Manuel Miranda has won a Pulitzer Prize.  What book is the musical based on and what are some ways in which it was cleverly adapted into a musical?  What are the qualities that most impressed the critics? What is another musical by Lin-Manuel Miranda and what qualities of that musical most impressed the critics?
SEARCH TERMS: Hamilton AND Lin-Manuel Miranda


PEOPLE: Prince
TOPIC: The musician Prince invented a highly compelling blend of popular music styles to create a form music that fit his talents and developed a large devoted following of fans.  What styles of music did he blend to create his sound?  What were some of his biggest hits and what were the qualities that most impressed the critics?  What were some recurring themes in this songs?  What movie helped widen his audience?
SEARCH TERMS: Prince AND Purple Rain

PEOPLE: Doris Roberts
TOPIC:  Actress Doris Roberts was most famous for her portrayal of Marie Barone in the television comedy Everyone Loves Raymond.  What were some of the comic aspects of her character Marie that were recognized by fans of the show as amusing aspects of human nature and family dynamics?
SEARCH TERMS: Doris Roberts AND Everybody Loves Raymond

PEOPLE: Fidel Castro
TOPIC: Fidel Castro made a speech at the Cuban Communist Party meeting that recently concluded in which he contemplated his own death. He had not been seen in public for a very long time. What was the main theme of his speech? What meeting was he addressing? If he dies soon, how do you think the world will remember him?
SEARCH TERMS: Fidel Castro

PEOPLE: Malick Sidibe
TOPIC:  Malick SidibĂ© was an internationally known African photographer. He photographed the shifting fashions of Malian youth from the 1950s to the 1970s as well as the nightlife of Bamako. What was striking about the portraits of youth that he took? What awards did he win for his work during his lifetime?
SEARCH TERMS: Malick Sidibe

PEOPLE: Merle Haggard
TOPIC:  Merle Haggard helped create a style of western country music that came to be known as the Bakersfield Sound after Bakersfield, California where the music developed in the local bars and music clubs.  What are some of the prominent qualities of the Bakersfield Sound and who are some of the most famous players of the Bakersfield country music?  What are some of his most famous songs? What is the Outlaw Country movement and what was his contribution to that music?
SEARCH TERMS:  Merle Haggard

PEOPLE: Papa Wembe
TOPIC:  Papa Wembe was a Congolese music star.  He entered the Kinshasa music scene in the late 1960s and added elements of rock music to the rhumba that was popular.  This music later morphed into soukous which became popular throughout Africa.  What bands did he perform in through the years?  What western rock star helped bring him to prominence in world music?  Who were some of the other musicians who helped shape soukous?

Monday, March 14, 2016

Virginia Public Library is rowing its way to the Olympic spirit!

One Book Northland logo

At noon on Thursday, April 7, the Virginia Public Library will be hosting its annual One Book Northland event.  One Book Northland is a collaboration among several entities, including the Virginia, Duluth, Cloquet, Two Harbors, and Superior public libraries.  The One Book committee spends many hours each autumn considering several different titles before narrowing the choices to four, from which our communities choose the book which we will all read.  The title chosen this year is The Boys in the Boat, by Daniel James Brown. 
Boys in the Boat cover image

This fascinating book explores the 1936 gold medal winning rowing team’s journey, from the early days of the Great Depression through their day of triumph in Berlin.  It is part biography, as the author used interview information on Joe Rantz, one of the boys in the boat, to describe his particular path to becoming part of the winning team.  It is also part history, as without historical context, much of the drama would be lost. 

Virginia is pleased to be having David Krmpotich, a Duluth native, participating in our One Book Northland, discussion on April 7th.  David Krmpotich, who grew up in Duluth and joined the Duluth Rowing Club as a teenager, was a member of the 1988 US Olympic team which won Silver at the Seoul Olympic games.  His program is called “The Olympic Experience” and will share how his experience relates to those of the young men featured in The Boys in the Boat. 

Discussion of the book will follow David’s presentation.  In addition to having multiple copies to borrow, the library has several copies of the book available for purchase.  Reading the book is not required for participation!

Contact us at 748-7525 if you have questions. 

Tuesday, March 1, 2016

Monthly Hot Topics @ Your Library!

NewsBank is one of many databases we provide to help patrons find reliable information on different topics.  NewsBank, as the name suggests, gets its information from newspapers.  Our library subscription includes three portals to information:  

--Using America's News, you can search more than 2,000 U.S. newspapers, including the Mesabi Daily News and other small Minnesota papers. Search headlines, sports, obituaries, politics, and more!

--Are you working on your family tree? Explore America's Genealogy Bank, where you can quickly find your ancestors in over 300 years of historical newspapers.

--Search the largest and most comprehensive collection of newspaper obituaries with America's Obituaries & Death Notices.

Below you can find a sampling of the type of information to be found.  Explore.  Have fun.  Contact us if you want to learn more.

March 2016


Civics, Government and Politics: U.S. Presidential Primaries and Caucuses    
TOPIC:  Each party requires a specific delegate count for a candidate to become the party’s nominee for president.  What is the required delegate count for each party? How are the candidate’s delegates from each state decided?  What is the difference between a primary and a caucus?  What are some examples of how states differ on these?  What are superdelegates and how do they differ from regular delegates?  Who has won the primaries and caucuses already held?
SEARCH TERMS: (Republican OR Republicans OR Democrat OR Democratic OR GOP) AND (primary OR caucus OR primaries OR caucuses) AND (candidate OR candidates)

TOPIC:  With a promise from President Assad to Vladimir Putin to respect the terms established, Syria’s opposition has agreed to enter into a temporary ceasefire from a war that has killed over 260,000 people.  While Saudi Arabia has supported the opposition, Russia has supported Assad. How are ceasefires established in war torn countries? What are the goals of a ‘temporary’ ceasefire in Syria? How are the surrounding countries responding to the terms of the ceasefire?
SEARCH TERMS: Syria AND ceasefire

HEALTH: Zika Virus
TOPIC:  The Zika Virus has been declared an international public health emergency by the World Health Organization. Women who are pregnant or of child-bearing age are being warned not to travel to several countries in both Latin America and the Caribbean where outbreaks have been reported. By the end of 2016, as many as 4 million people could be infected by the virus which is known to cause birth defects. How is the Zika virus transmitted? What attempts are being made to stop its spread? What is the relationship between microcephaly and the Zika virus?
SEARCH TERMS: Zika virus


BUSINESS: Apple and the FBI
TOPIC: The U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) is seeking legal measures to compel Apple Inc. to unlock an iPhone belonging to one of the San Bernardino terrorists and is evidence in the investigation.  What arguments has Apple made to protect the privacy concerns for their customers?  What are the arguments used by the FBI?  What are the most influential individuals and groups on each side of this debate, and what are their most persuasive arguments?
SEARCH TERMS: Apple AND San Bernardino AND terror* AND investigat*

BUSINESS:  Cleber LLC       
TOPIC: The Alabama-based company Cleber LLC will be the first manufacturer to open a plant in Cuba since the 1959 revolution when it starts building tractors there.  What is the reason that they are opening up a plant there?  How do regulations and conditions for manufacturing in Cuba differ from those in the United States?
SEARCH TERMS: Cleber AND Cuba AND tractor*

BUSINESS: Beijing is New ‘Billionaire’ Capital
TOPIC:  Beijing has surpassed New York in the amount of billionaires within its city, according to Hurun, a Chinese private research firm. What economic factors attributed to the climb of billionaires in China? How does the presence of billionaires affect a culture as a whole? Why does news about the amount of billionaires living in a city/country matter?
SEARCH TERMS: Beijing AND billion*

CIVICS, GOVERNMENT AND POLITICS: Chaos in Uganda after Presidential Election
TOPIC: In Uganda Dr.Kizza Besigye, former bush war hero and main opposition contender for the past four presidential elections, has been arrested and detained several times since the election has taken place.  President Yoweri Museveni has held office since 1986, and is said to have won this election with 60.8% of the vote. Why is Besigye under arrest? Why are protests erupting in response to the election? What has been the international response to the way the election and aftermath has been handled by the authorities in Kampala? How has President Museveni responded to international input about the fairness of the election?
SEARCH TERMS: Uganda AND election AND Besigye                            
CRIME AND LAW: Kalamazoo Shootings        
TOPIC:  Jason Brian Dalton, a driver for the online taxi dispatch service Uber has been charged with a series of deadly shootings at different locations in Kalamazoo, Michigan.  What evidence have investigators discovered in this case and what are some of the unsettling aspects of Dalton’s role as a driver at the time of these shootings?  What has been questioned about Uber’s vetting procedures during this case?
SEARCH TERMS: Uber AND Dalton AND Kalamazoo

CRIME AND LAW: Amnesty International Annual Report
TOPIC: In its annual report, Amnesty International scorned most European countries for their lack of sensitive response to thousands of refugees who were fleeing war-torn nations and seeking refuge in 2015. Thirty or more countries worldwide, including France and the US, illegally forced refugees to return to their countries where they faced inhumane and dangerous conditions. The one country that was an exception to the report was Germany. What is surprising about this report?  What type of role has Amnesty International played in the refugee crisis?  What types of strategies has Germany used to manage the refugee crisis that other countries have failed to do?
SEARCH TERMS: Amnesty International AND annual report

ECONOMICS: Lagarde to Continue as IMF’s Managing Director
TOPIC:  Christine Lagarde will continue her role as the International Monetary Fund’s Managing Director. Why did the IMF’s executive board re-appoint her to the post? What leadership qualities does she have that make her well-suited for this position? What is the primary roles of the IMF within the global economy?

ECONOMICS: Tough Year Ahead for South Africa
TOPIC:  The World Bank has warned South Africa that they may be in for a tough economic year ahead. What are some of the factors that have led the World Bank to make such a warning? Aside from economic stability issues, what are some of the other aspects of South Africa’s culture that have an impact on the economy?
SEARCH TERMS: South African AND World Bank

ECONOMICS: U.S. Economic Report             
TOPIC:  President Obama has sent the U.S. Congress his annual economic report.  What is the history and purpose of this report?  What is its relationship to the president’s annual budget proposal?  What are the key points in this year’s economic report?
SEARCH TERMS: Obama AND annual economic report

EDUCATION: The Language of Computers       
TOPIC:  The Florida state senate has endorsed requiring computer coding as a language requirement in the state education system.  What are the differences and similarities between Florida’s legislation and the specifics of Chicago’s recent decision to make computer science mandatory in its public schools? What is different between computer coding and language as we traditionally think of it and what are the similarities?  What are some of the ways a knowledge of computer coding can help adults other than just working in the field?
SEARCH TERMS: language AND computer AND Florida AND (code OR coding)

EDUCATION: Nearly 50% of Children in Pakistan Do Not Attend School
TOPIC:  In a bleak report, the Pakistani government reported that 24 million children living in Pakistan from the ages of 5 to 16 years old do not go to school. The number of unschooled children is just about even between boys and girls. Most the children surveyed who were not in school dropped out of school by the fifth year. Why are so many children in Pakistan not being schooled? What factors affected children not receiving a primary education? What has been the response to such alarming statistics?
SEARCH TERMS: Pakistan AND school

HISTORY: Battle of Verdun Anniversary
TOPIC:  The Battle of Verdun was one of the largest and longest battles of World War I. When did it take place? Where was the battle located? Who were the opponents? What was the desired outcome? What were some of its more pivotal events? What are the notorious aspects of this battle?
SEARCH TERMS: Verdun AND anniversary

HISTORY:  Black History         
TOPIC: Black History Month celebrates the dignity and contributions of African Americans throughout history as well as reflects on the hardships and injustices endured.  In what years of U.S. history was slavery a legal institution and what states had adopted it?  When was the abolitionist movement and what are some of its early successes? What are some events in the 1950s that started the mid-20th century civil rights movement?
SEARCH TERMS: (black OR African American) AND history

SOCIAL ISSUES: Push to Eliminate Child Marriage
TOPIC: Leaders of faith, social workers, child rights activists and public representatives met in Bangladesh to discuss strategies to ending the social ‘curse’ and family practice of forcing child marriage. Priests play a large role in intervention within families where parents have decided to have their children wed. What are some of the tactics used to stop this custom? How do forced, young marriages affect the children who marry? Why are girls, particularly, at risk for lifetime of turmoil in a forced marriage?
SEARCH TERMS: child marriage

SOCIAL ISSUES: Westminster Dog Show            
TOPIC: A German Shorthaired Pointer is the winner of this year’s Westminster Dog Show.  What are the qualities of this breed that can be displayed in dog shows? What are the seven new breeds that were added to the show this year?
SEARCH TERMS: Westminster Dog Show AND Shorthaired Pointer

ENVIRONMENT: Carbon Emissions Rule            
TOPIC:  President Obama’s carbon emissions rule has been halted by the United States Supreme Court while lower courts hear state challenges to the rule which had been enforced by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).  What are the general carbon emission rules and what specifics are different states challenging?  What are best legal and scientific arguments supporting each side of this case?
SEARCH TERMS: emissions AND Supreme Court

ENVIRONMENT: Cyclone Disaster
TOPIC: In Fiji, Cyclone Winston has been recorded as the worst storm ever recorded in the southern hemisphere. Thousands are homeless, a number of villages have been completely wiped out, and many deaths have occurred as a result of the storm. What category was the storm? How are categories of storms determined? What aid organizations have responded, and what are the fears about health issues that can develop after a storm such as this?
SEARCH TERMS: Fiji AND cyclone

ENVIRONMENT: South African Drought
TOPIC: South Africa is currently suffering a severe drought.  How is this impacting their economy?  How is the country handling the water shortages and the impact on their food supply?  What has been the effect on power utilities?  What has caused the drought?  What are some solutions being investigated or implemented?
SEARCH TERMS: South Africa AND drought

SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY: Wendelstein 7X Fusion Reactor
TOPIC:  The Wendelstein 7X fusion reactor in Germany has produced its first evidence of hydrogen plasma.  What is the Wendelstein 7X fusion stellarator, what are its capabilities and what is its purpose?  What scientific function did it perform last December and what is the significance of that to its recent discovery of hydrogen plasma?  What is the overall significance of both experiments to science?
SEARCH TERMS: Wendelstein 7X fusion AND hydrogen plasma

SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY: Gravitational Waves        
TOPIC:  Laser Interferometer Gravitational-wave Observatory detectors (LIGO) have observed gravitational waves, thus confirming Einstein’s theory of relativity.  What are gravitational waves and how do they confirm this theory?  How were they recently viewed and what do they tell us about the universe?  What potential discoveries do these hold for the future?
SEARCH TERMS: gravitational waves AND Einstein

SPORTS: Super Bowl
TOPIC: The Denver Broncos have beaten the Carolina Panthers to win the Super Bowl.  What were the key plays of the game and who were the key players?  Why did this Super Bowl drop the tradition of using Roman numerals in the Super Bowl title?
SEARCH TERMS: Broncos AND Panthers AND Super Bowl

SPORTS: Daytona 500     
TOPIC:  Denny Hamlin has won the Daytona 500, a key race in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series.  What have been some of the other peaks in his racing career? What are the key aspects of the Daytona International Speedway and how do drivers handle this track?
SEARCH TERMS: Daytona 500 and Denny Hamlin

SPORTS: Four Continent Figure Skating Championships
TOPIC:  Canadian Patrick Chan and Japan’s Satoko Miyahara are the men’s and women’s singles winners in the Four Continent Figure Skating championships which includes the Americas, Asia, Africa and Oceania.  What were the most impressive aspects of their skating?  Who were the winners of the pair skating and ice dancing competitions and what were the most impressive aspects of their performances?  What is the history of this event?
SEARCH TERMS: Four Continent Figure Skating Championships

SPORTS: Tokyo Marathon
TOPIC:  Feyisa Lilesa of Ethiopia and Heleh Kiprop of Kenya are the winners.  What are key highlights of their running careers?  What is the history of this marathon, and what have been some of its most exciting races?
SEARCH TERMS: Tokyo Marathon

FILM AND TELEVISION: Academy Awards         
TOPIC:  In the Awards this year, Spotlight won for best picture, Mad Max: Fury Road won the most awards, The Revenant won three Oscars including best actor for Leonardo DiCaprio and Bree Larson won best actress for her lead role in The Room. Who were the other big winners, and what were the qualities of the work that impressed the critics?  What was the focus of host Chris Rock’s humor?  Why was there such a focus on diversity?  What were some of the responses to his statements?  What are some other examples of social issues being expressed within artistic expression?
SEARCH TERMS: Academy Awards OR Oscars

FILM AND TELEVISION: British Academy Film Awards
TOPIC:  The American film The Revenant was the biggest winner at the British Academy Film Awards (BAFTA). What were some of the other big winners and what were the qualities of this film and the other winners that most impressed the critics?  What is the history of BAFTA and what is its purpose and criteria in judging films?
SEARCH TERMS: British Academy Awards OR BAFTA

FINE ARTS AND ARCHITECTURE: Colin Davis Paints the Bereaved
TOPIC: British portrait artist Colin Davis has an exhibition called Silent Testimony which are portraits of family members of those killed in the Northern Ireland Troubles as well as those injured in the conflict. Where is the exhibition currently taking place?  What city will the exhibition be shown next and why is it significant that it be shown there?

FINE ARTS AND ARCHITECTURE: International Pop in Philadelphia     
TOPIC:  The Philadelphia Museum of Art is having an exhibit called International Pop that shows how pop art has spread around the world.  Who are some of the major artists from different countries being represented and what are the most impressive qualities of their work?  What defines pop art and what is its appeal to the public?
SEARCH TERMS: Philadelphia Museum of Art AND pop art

LITERATURE: Harper Lee         
TOPIC:  Harper Lee was the author of the classic American novel To Kill a Mockingbird and its follow-up 55 years later, Go Set a Watchman.  What were the qualities of To Kill A Mockingbird that made it such a popular and acclaimed novel and what qualities in Go Set a Watchman surprised a lot of critics?  What have been some of the legal issues surrounding Lee’s estate? What is the town where she spent most of her life and how has it influenced her novels?
SEARCH TERMS: Harper Lee AND To Kill A Mockingbird

TOPIC:  Italian novelist Umberto Eco is best remembered for his novel The Name of the Rose, a popular best seller and also a very popular movie.  What is the book about and what are the qualities of the writing that impressed the critics?  What are some of his other esteemed novels and what are the qualities of those books that most impressed the critics?

TOPIC:  Ishmael Abbey, nicknamed DJ Katapila, is one of the hottest DJs in the clubs and parties of Accra, Ghana and recently a reissue of his first album Trotro has been gaining a following outside of Ghana.  What is involved in his performance?  What are the qualities in his work that impress his fans?   Why are funeral parties a venue that he often plays in Accra?

PERFORMING ARTS: Grammy Awards    
TOPIC:  Taylor Swift, Kendrick Lamar and the Mark Ronson and Bruno Mars’ song Uptown Funk were the big winners at the Grammy Awards.  What were the qualities of these and the work of other winners that most impressed the critics?  What are the qualifications to vote in the Grammy Awards and how is the voting done?
SEARCH TERMS: Grammy Awards


PEOPLE: Maurice White         
TOPIC:  Maurice White was the founder and leader of the popular band Earth, Wind and Fire. What were some of their major hits? What genres of popular music were blended to create their unique but very successful sound?  What was their impact on music?
SEARCH TERMS: Maurice White AND Earth Wind and Fire

PEOPLE: Boutros Boutros-Ghali
TOPIC:  Boutros Boutros-Ghali was an Egyptian politician who eventually became the sixth Secretary-General of the United Nations. During his time as the leader of the UN, he oversaw the breakup of Yugoslavia and responded to the genocide in Rwanda. What is the role of the UN Secretary-General? What other notable world events happened during Boutros-Ghali’s time in office, and how did he respond? What notable leadership traits did Boutros Boutros-Ghali have in his career?
SEARCH TERMS: Boutros Boutros-Ghali

PEOPLE: Julian Assange
TOPIC:  The United National Working Group on Arbitrary Detention (UNWGAD) has called for the release of Julian Assange from detention.  What is the reasoning behind this recommendation given in the report?  What governments have been named in the report and what is their reaction?
SEARCH TERMS: Assange AND United Nations

PEOPLE: Sarah Parcak     
TOPIC: Sarah Parcak is an American archeologist who has used satellite imaging to identify former sites of the Roman Empire that could hold archeological treasures.  What television documentaries and news broadcasts have featured her, and what did they say about her work? What university does she teach at and what course?
SEARCH TERMS: Sarah Parcak

PEOPLE: Robert Califf        
TOPIC:  President Obama’s nominee, Robert Califf has been confirmed by the U.S. Senate to become the new head of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA).  What was his prior career and what role did it play in clinical trials for pharmaceutical companies?  What are the duties of the head of the FDA?

PEOPLE: Sibghatullah Mojaddedi
TOPIC:  Sibghatullah Mojaddedi was an Afghani politician and briefly the president of Afghanistan in 1992.  What was he jailed for in 1959? Why was he forced to resign from the presidency?
SEARCH TERMS: president AND Mojaddedi

PEOPLE: Sushil Koirala
TOPIC:  Sushil Koirala was the Prime Minister of Nepal for most of 2014 and 2015.  What were his main achievements during this time?  What position did he hold in the Nepal Congress and what were his main accomplishments there?
SEARCH TERMS: Sushil Koirala