Reference Blog Entries

February 17-20: The Great Backyard Bird Count

Ann's picture

A bright red male cardinal bird sitting on a branch

Are you looking for some fun (and educational) quality time with your family? Join other ‘citizen scientists’ around the world on February 17-20 for the 20th Great Backyard Bird Count. People count the birds they see for at least 15 minutes on one or more days, and then enter the findings at This annual count gives scientists a snapshot of where birds actually are, so they can see movement over the last year, as well as identify long-term changes in habitats and migration patterns.

Don’t worry if you don’t know much about birds! There is lots of information and assistance: instructions, a “how to” presentation, guides, and identification ‘apps’. It’s easy to register, count, and submit observations.

Last year, more than 160,000 people from 130 countries submitted counts making it the largest ‘snapshot’ of global bird populations ever recorded. Due to changing weather conditions, many species typically found in Mexico and Central America were seen in the Southwest. In addition, waterfowl are remaining further north than usual because they are able to find open, unfrozen water.

Cover painting of birds in a nest from the Breeding Birds in Ohio bookWe have many other great bird resources too. For Ohio birds, we've recently added the Second Atlas of Breeding Birds in Ohio to our reference collection. This beautiful book describes Ohio habitats, explains the scientific methods, analyzes the changes observed, and discusses each species.

You could also search for articles about birds in our National Geographic Virtual Library, which can be accessed through our website using your library card. Go to and choose National Geographic Virtual Library.

And don’t forget, you can always contact a Reference Librarian by phone, textemail, or in person for assistance in using our databases and eBooks.

Computers in Skirts

Laura's picture

The Oscar-nominated movie “Hidden Figures” dramatizes the contributions of a corps of African-American women who did mathematical calculations for the NASA space program in the early 1960s, before computers, as we know them, were in use. Because the women did the computational work, they were called “computers”. Color photo of Katherine Johnson receiving the medal of honor

The movie is based on true events described in the book “Hidden Figures” by Margot Lee Shetterly. Specifically, it focuses on the experiences of three black women with extraordinary skills and incredible minds. They were Katherine G. Johnson, Dorothy Vaughan, and Mary Jackson. The women were instrumental in the success of the Friendship 7 mission in which John Glenn orbited the earth. According to the NASA history website, “this Mercury-Atlas (MA) 6 mission also reestablished NASA and the U.S. as a strong contender in the space race with the Soviet Union…and set the stage for Projects Gemini and Apollo during the 1960s and all later U.S. human spaceflight activities.” 

They accomplished all this while remaining composed in the face of racial prejudice and gender discrimination. Therefore, it is fitting that we credit the contributions of these unsung heroes during Black History Month (February) and Women’s History Month (March).

If you want to read more, including an interview with Katherine Goble Johnson, you may consult the following databases provided by the Upper Arlington Public Library.

Logo for the Gale Biography in Context database; blue rectangle with light blue background, blue and black lettering and a picture of former President Barack Obama's face and shouldersLogo for the Gale Science in Context database; light green rectangle with green and black lettering and an artist's rendition of an atomLogo for Science Reference Center database; yellow green rectangle with black lettering and figuresLogo for the Facts on File Science Online database; turquoise rectangle with white lettering and black and white photograph of stars and planets