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Book Cart Drill Teams Battle for Supremacy

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The secret lives of librarians took center stage at the American Library Association's annual conference earlier this month. There was dancing, there were costumes, there was music, and, of course, there were book carts. They practice their routines in hallways and parking lots, ready to compete in the 5th annual Library Book Cart Drill Team Championship, sponsored by library supply company DEMCO.


"I thought, my God, what have we done here," said DEMCO's John Ison of the first competition. Teams bring acrobatic splits, book cart headlights, and dry ice effects to the floor in the quest to win first place and the coveted gold book cart trophy that comes with it. "It changes the whole image of librarians," added Ison.

What started out as a creative demonstration has since turned into an all out competition judged on technical ability and artistic impression, with bonus points for unique costumes, dance moves, and other innovations.

After the second place Des Plaines Public Library Cart Wheels team performed to a medley of songs from Grease, Ison remarked, "There was a move towards the beginning--a sort of thrust--worth several points." And with each thrust, the competition also brings team members closer together, building camaraderie. (The winning team had to juggle practices with members from three different library branches.)

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After an especially competitive year that almost ended in a tie, the judges awarded the Oak Park Library Warrior Librarians first prize for their viking-inspired performance, complete with sword play, horned helmets, and war cries.

During the competition, one of the moderators joked to any library school students in the audience, "It's really not too late to change your major." Judging by the applause from the overflowing crowd, if anything, this competition will likely boost library school enrollments, and reduce shushing.

Here are the videos of the top three teams:

First Place: The Oak Park Public Library Warrior Librarians (IL)

Second Place: Cart Wheels, Des Plaines Public Library (IL)

Third Place: Steel City Kings, University of Pittsburgh

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Big Questions
What's the Difference Between Vanilla and French Vanilla Ice Cream?
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While you’re browsing the ice cream aisle, you may find yourself wondering, “What’s so French about French vanilla?” The name may sound a little fancier than just plain ol’ “vanilla,” but it has nothing to do with the origin of the vanilla itself. (Vanilla is a tropical plant that grows near the equator.)

The difference comes down to eggs, as The Kitchn explains. You may have already noticed that French vanilla ice cream tends to have a slightly yellow coloring, while plain vanilla ice cream is more white. That’s because the base of French vanilla ice cream has egg yolks added to it.

The eggs give French vanilla ice cream both a smoother consistency and that subtle yellow color. The taste is a little richer and a little more complex than a regular vanilla, which is made with just milk and cream and is sometimes called “Philadelphia-style vanilla” ice cream.

In an interview with NPR’s All Things Considered in 2010—when Baskin-Robbins decided to eliminate French Vanilla from its ice cream lineup—ice cream industry consultant Bruce Tharp noted that French vanilla ice cream may date back to at least colonial times, when Thomas Jefferson and George Washington both used ice cream recipes that included egg yolks.

Jefferson likely acquired his taste for ice cream during the time he spent in France, and served it to his White House guests several times. His family’s ice cream recipe—which calls for six egg yolks per quart of cream—seems to have originated with his French butler.

But everyone already knew to trust the French with their dairy products, right?

Have you got a Big Question you'd like us to answer? If so, let us know by emailing us at bigquestions@mentalfloss.com.

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science
Belly Flop Physics 101: The Science Behind the Sting
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Belly flops are the least-dignified—yet most painful—way of making a serious splash at the pool. Rarely do they result in serious physical injury, but if you’re wondering why an elegant swan dive feels better for your body than falling stomach-first into the water, you can learn the laws of physics that turn your soft torso a tender pink by watching the SciShow’s video below.

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