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OpenLearn Live: 14th July 2016

Updated Thursday 14th July 2016

A pioneering librarian; the storming of the Bastille. Then more free learning through the day.

OpenLearn Live brings free learning into the heart of your world. This page will be updated during the day.

Yesterday, we saw a new Prime Minister, saw an old new Prime Minister, and considered Adele's swearing

On this day last year: A close look at Pluto, meeting Elizabeth Wurtzel and Bastille Day

See the complete collection of OpenLearn Live

Today's Posts

How do you tell if a gorilla is unwell?

It might sound like the set-up to a terrible gag, but if you're a researcher trying to monitor the health of gorillas in the wild, there is no punchline. There's the option of swabbing a gorilla's mouth or butt, but you'd have to get close enough to do that.

Researchers have come up with a new method, though, that doesn't involve poking anything uninvited into a primate. They're checking out the half-eaten food left behind by gorillas. Discover magazine explains how it works:

Researchers watched from a distance while gorillas ate, then collected plant parts the animals left behind. They looked especially for anything with saliva or teeth marks on it. Then they packed the bits of stems, leaves and roots in liquid nitrogen to take back to the lab.

The team ended up with 383 plant samples from 294 gorillas of all ages. The most common samples came from a vine called Urera, which gorillas like to eat just the outside layer of. Another popular plant was wild celery; gorillas use their teeth to scrape out the tasty inner part of a stalk, then discard the rest. The scientists also collected chewed plant samples from 18 golden monkeys, another primate species that lives in the area, for comparison.

In the lab, researchers analyzed the samples for genetic material. They found DNA from gorilla herpesviruses in 42 percent of the gorilla plant samples. These viruses often live in a host without making the animal sick. They didn’t find any of the several respiratory viruses they checked for—which wasn’t surprising, the authors write, because none of the gorillas looked sick.

Read the article at Discover Magazine: A New Tool for Studying Gorilla Health: Half-Chewed Food

Listen: Saving the mountain gorilla

Bastille Day

It's the 14th July, which in France means Bastille Day is being marked:

Here's History Pod's take on what happened on July 14th, 1789:

Read: True stories of the Bastille

Try our free course: La quatroze juliet

... and we're back

Really impressively, the team in IT have got us back online over an hour ahead of schedule. Thanks to all involved.

We'll be offline during the day

Sorry - we're going to be offline for a short period during the day. Hopefully the disruption will be as short as practicable. Our apologies in advance.

Theresa week: Theresa Elmendorf

This week, as the UK has its first ever Prime Minister called Theresa, we're celebrating some noteworthy bearers of that name. Yesterday, we met Therese Malfatti, considered by some to be the inspiration for Fur Elise. Today, we're focusing on Theresa Elmendorf.

Born Theresa West in Wisconsin in 1855, Theresa Elmendorf grew up to become a superhero librarian. Her career started in the Milwaukee Public Library, where at the age of just 25 she became Deputy Librarian. By 1892, she was running the library - the first woman to hold such a post in the US.

Milwaukee Central Library Copyright free image Icon Copyright free: Freekee Milwaukee Public Library

She was her state's first representative in the American Library Association, and was instrumental in creating a library assocation for Wisconsin.

You'll have read stories before of 19th Century women achieving great things, with the storyline becoming ruptured by marriage, and so is the case with Theresa. Up to a point. In 1896, she married Henry Livingston Elmendorf, quit her job and moved with him to Buffalo, where he ran the public library.

Although she had no formal role, she was a partner in his work, co-creating The Buffalo Plan. This brought the public library to the heart of the city's public schools network - a union of learning.

During this time, Theresa also found space to research and write, including works about small libraries and school libraries.

On Henry's death in 1906, she resume her career - partly through neccessity, partly through passion. For 20 years, she held the role of Deputy Librarian at Buffalo; in 1911, she was elected to lead the American Library Assocation. A report noted her appointment:

Mrs. Thresa West Elmendorf, the first woman to be honored by the association with its presidency, comes into the office by right of achievement greater than that of any other woman in the library field and of an equal grade with that of any man.  Her wholesome, sympathetic attitude toward library work and workers has been a distinct contribution to the craft and her freedom from personal ambition has made her a valuable aid in developing the power of the A. L. A. Her election to the presidency is a well-earned, a well-deserved honor, marking an epoch in which the A. L. A. honored itself in honoring her.

Want to get to know some more inspiring librarians? Visit The Open University's library

Looking for more inspiring people? Meet the Real Wonder Women





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