February 02, 2019

A to Z and Everything in Between

The New Year marks my sixteenth year as a Washington state resident. And each day, I continue to learn about our gorgeous Evergreen state. As examples, I now know its unofficial main dish is planked salmon, while the official state foods are the apple, and our oh-so-delicious Walla Walla sweet onions. And the decision to select the coast rhododendron as our state flower?  It turns out it was a most contentious matter over one hundred years ago. Many folks advocated for the ordinary clover. But 53% of Washington women voting chose the rhododendron. That’s right – no men were allowed in this election.  Who knew? 

And since we are located but a whisper from the Idaho border, I decided to see what facts and fun I could find out about our neighboring Gem State. Huckleberries and potatoes are the official state foods of Idaho (both delicious, but no surprise there). But I was both impressed and delighted to read women were given the right to vote almost a quarter of a century before the nineteenth amendment was passed. Way to go, Idaho!

Since I’ve lived in a number of other states, I decided to continue my search for the new, the interesting and the “how about that” information across the USA.  Here are a few nuggets of my new knowledge: The artist who embroidered the first Minnesota state flag studied tapestry weaving at the Gobelins manufactory in Paris. My home state of Illinois has popcorn as its official food (which helps explain why it was such a popular staple in my childhood home). And residents of New Mexico can take great pride that their enchanted state has three of the top ten cities in U.S. with the cleanest air.

How did I find out these interesting facts? It was incredibly easy and 100% free to use. And this amazing resource is available to you too. Simply go online to www.neill-lib.org and click on “databases.” And there it is – A to Z the USA – “the world’s largest database of U.S. State information, including U.S. territories and the District of Columbia.” The sheer amount of information it contains is truly mind boggling. State reports and articles, recipes, photos, postcards, flags, specific information about each state’s culture, history, geography, economy, indigenous people, famous residents, rivers, lakes, parks, historical figures and on and on and on.  It’s incredibly thorough and just two clicks away.

It’s perfect for school reports, state projects, cozy armchair traveling and so much more. From soup to nuts, “A to Z the USA” is a free, easy library resource that has it all. I encourage you and yours to explore it today and often!

Kathleen Ahern
Youth Librarian

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