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Biography in Context Provides Reliable Information About People of Interest

Vladimir Putin. Pete Seeger. The Beatles. They’ve all made headlines in recent weeks, between the Olympic Games in Russia, folk singer Seeger’s passing, and the anniversary of the 1964 British Invasion.

News stories often pique our interest to know more about the person behind the headlines. In the case of Seeger and the Beatles, they may stir memories. And sometimes, news stories instigate the next classroom assignment.

You could Google them, but could you trust what you get? Whether you’re writing a classroom essay or just eager to know more about “Russia’s Mystery Man,” you can get a vast picture of your subject through a reliable library research site called Biography in Context.

It’s at, click “Topics,” and then click “History & Biography.”

It’s easy to search by name or occupation, it’s colorful and it’s constantly being updated with the most recent notables – Tonight Show heir Jimmy Fallon, new Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen. In this, African-American History Month, the featured video is Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. leading the March on Washington.

The site includes more than 600,000 biographies that integrate the most reliable reference materials, newspaper and magazine articles and multimedia sources. Some biographical pages include video and audio recordings. Articles culled from international sources cover the cultural impact, the political significance, or sometimes the curious aspects. The New York Times reported that a toilet that once belonged to John Lennon sold for about $14,700 at auction. Some articles are speech-enabled for visually impaired individuals.

Curious to know more about how a former KGB intelligence agent emerged from obscurity to become Russia’s leader? You’ll find it at Biography in Context.
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Thanks to all the library patrons who helped make the fifth Food For Fines campaign a success. They donated 7,172 pounds of nonperishable food for Ozarks Food Harvest from Jan. 26-Feb. 1. The collection will provide 5,976 meals for families served by the regional food bank.

Donors got 50 cents off their overdue fines for every item of food they brought in. By week’s end, librarians waived $3,189.94 in fines.

This year’s donations bring the five-year total of food collected to 39,124 pounds.

Kathleen O'Dell is community relations director for the Springfield-Greene County Library District. She can be reached at

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