Alexander Hamilton Book Review


Cover via

Alexander Hamilton
By Ron Chernow
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This hefty, yet well written biography tells the story of one of our lesser studied Founding Fathers.   Until this past year, when the musical by Lin-Manuel Miranda became THE show to see in NYC and here in Chicago, most people recall Hamilton for two things: he is pictured on the $10 bill, and he was shot and killed by Aaron Burr in a duel.  But neither shows his true importance.

In Chernow’s gentle hands, Hamilton gains his place as one of the brilliant minds (arguably the most brilliant mind) that shaped this country, its policies, and its Constitution. In this account, Hamilton’s accomplishments are well-delineated (co-author of The Federalist Papers, founder of our US Treasury and monetary system, confidant of Washington, and immersed in just about every situation the country faced, from the Revolution and beyond.) His abilities were great, yet his time here was short.  Detailed in his descriptions, this biography takes the reader through his humble beginnings as a poor and illegitimate immigrant to becoming one of the most powerful men in the country.

As the country formed in the last 10-15 years of his life, Hamilton feared the despotism and terror that was happening in France, and worried that the new Republic would be undone. All this (plus his ego) caused him to make some grave errors in judgment (for example, his was the first political “sex scandal”, and his diatribes against President Adams) that ultimately ended up being his political undoing.

Although Chernow’s biography is definitely a sympathetic one, he does expose the flaws in his character and puts all the political machinations into context so the reader learns a lot about many political figures and why decisions were made on important topics such as treaties and the national debt.

In reading this work, I not only gained a whole new admiration for this individual who influenced what the U.S. has become today, but I also obtained a greater understanding of all the men who created a system that became something new and the difficulties and nuances undertaken to make a new and ultimately successful nation.Maria2016(2)

–Review by Maria Bagshaw, Reference Librarian

Need to cite? Here’s some help!


Make your life easier by checking out the citing guide options below.




Citing Other Types of Formats (Twitter, Facebook, E-readers)

NoodleTools is an online tool that can assist you in organizing your research, including notecards, sharing, and creating your bibliography/works cited page. See the NoodleTools Research Guide for step-by-step instructions.

Don’t forget that you can get personalized citation help from the ECC Librarians. We are available during all of our library hours (many nights until 10 p.m.) and have experience in the various formats.  Contact us by email, chat, text, phone, and in person.

Smarter Google Searching

googlelogo_color_284x96dpSearching Google is easy, right?  You just type in your word into the pretty white box and get 40 billion awesome results (NOT!)

We are going to make your life easier by providing these Top 5 Tips to smarter Google Searching.  Feel free to share your own tips in the comments!

  1. Quotation Marks 
    For example: “higher education” instead of higher education. This will narrow your results and allow the computer to search for the phrase.
  2. Boolean operators: AND and OR 
    AND is the default for Google searching, so when you add terms to your search, it will keep narrowing your focus.
    OR is a way to expand your search if you keep hitting dead ends. For example: higher education OR college OR university. Good for synonymous terms.
  3.  Site (domain) search: keyword + site:extension or name 
    For example, a search for children “mentally ill parents” site:gov
    will filter out most other site extensions and bring back government websites (.gov). This allows you to target one type of website as you search. You can also specify a specific site such as:
    anxiety site:Mayo Clinic to just retrieve results from the Mayo Clinic website.
  4. Google Scholar
    If you’re unsure where to start this can be a good starting point that directs you to scholarly resources. Sometimes you will get full text available through the library on this site as well. Not everything will be in full text.
  5. Advanced Search
    This tool is also great when you are looking for a specific source as it has a field for “all these words” as well as a field for “this exact word or phrase”.

October is Cyber Security Awareness Month!

ncsamlogo_14march16_0You have undoubtedly heard about various hacks, leaks, and invasions into our government and our personal information online.  Cyber Security Awareness Month is an attempt to educate us all on these issues and provide us with tools to recognize and prevent this from happening to you.

Homeland Security is active in this campaign and offers a weekly theme.  You can also tweet about your thoughts using #CyberAware. 

Elgin Community College and your ECC library also have resources to help you.

At the library:

  • We created a research guide on Cyber Security that will link you to books, databases, and the latest news.


  • Bill Forg, the college’s Information Security Officer, will be in Jobe Lounge October  11th, 12th, 20th, 28th, and 31st from 10 a.m.-1 p.m.  He can help with questions such as: checking to see if your e-mail address has been included in any of the large data breaches (Adobe, Linkedin, etc), and for help connecting to our secure wireless (ECC Connect).

Age of Miracles Book Review


Cover art via

The Age of Miracles 
By  Karen Thompson Walker
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I highly recommend this lyrical novel that details what happens when the earth’s rotation slows down and days become longer and longer. The story is told by sixth grader Julia, who is trying to navigate the tricky waters of adolescence while witnessing the slow, inexorable destruction of the world as she knows it. This is no one time cataclysmic event like an earthquake or a tornado, but a slow disaster taking place over time. Changes are happening on a global scale, but also to Julia’s small world, and both are equally perplexing. There is no sense of panic in the writing, just a permeating sense of dread as people try to adapt to the changing circumstances around them, while conditions continue to deteriorate. Beautifully written book.

–Reviewed by Julie Keating, Reference Librarian

For faculty: Copyright basics


Copyright and using information ethically is an important aspect of scholarship.  We have created a Copyright Research Guide to help you determine the ever-confusing copyright situations you may confront in your work.

Take the Copyright Quiz, or view this video  to test your copyright knowledge.  Then head over to our Research Guide for more links, videos, and other useful information.


Banned Books Week September 25-October 1, 2016: Celebrating Diversity


Check out this article on frequently challenged materials with diverse content, then tweet using #diversity and #BannedBooksWeek with your reactions.

Here is a list of the most challenged books overall for 2015.

Participate in Banned Books Week with Outspeak.  Defend your First Amendment Rights.

Finally, check out this video discussing the most challenged books from the past year.

–Written by Maria Bagshaw, Reference/Instruction Librarian