At the beginning the school year, in a chemistry class at St. Ambrose University, Professor Margaret Legg offered students the option to buy a less-expensive e-book instead of the usual physical textbook. No one opted for the digital version.

Kelsey Berg, a sophomore majoring in biology, said she had already bought the hardcover edition. Had the e-book been offered before she bought it, Berg said she still wouldn't have purchased it. "I don't like reading on a computer. It's hard to concentrate," she said, adding that it wasn't worth the cost, either, because one can't sell an e-book back.

Many college students are embracing digital and open-source textbooks, which are accessed through computers and digital readers such as Amazon's Kindle. For some, it provides a more convenient way to carry multiple textbooks. Beyond being easier on students' backs, e-books are also better for the environment, because no natural resources are used in the production or transportation of a physical book.

But the major selling point is a lower cost compared to new textbooks. Textbooks cost an average of $900 per semester, according to the federal Government Accountability Office. The U.S. Public Interest Research Group (PIRG) has been advocating for reducing the prices of textbooks, which they say have risen faster than the rate of inflation in the past several years.

Although e-books are often 50 percent less expensive than unused print editions of textbooks, the cost evaluation isn't quite so clear-cut. In many cases, there's little or no cost savings to students in the long run.

And some people, like Berg, resist e-books for other reasons.

The Rock Island Preservation Commission has spent the past nine months surveying post-World War II subdivisions, researching the homes of some of Rock Island's most prominent historical citizens and comparing the architectural merit of hundreds of buildings, all for the purpose of identifying Rock Island's "100 most significant unprotected structures." These 100 structures represent the best of Rock Island's historic buildings that aren't already designated a Rock Island landmark or located in the Highland Park Historic District. The complete list is organized by address and by name and can be downloaded at RIGov.org/pdf/headlines/2009/091709MoSUS.pdf.

Brewmaster/Blue Bastard Dan Cleaveland

The Blue Cat Brew Pub opened 15 years ago this year, and given its institutional status in the Quad Cities, it's hard to believe that starting out, its proprietors knew next to nothing about how to brew beer or run a brewpub.

As co-owner and brewmaster Dan Cleaveland tells it, his sister Martha wanted to open a bar/restaurant, and after she learned about the brewpub model, she saw a business opportunity: There were no brewpubs in the Quad Cities.

Dan had never brewed beer. "She thought I'd make a good brewer," he said last week. Why? "I was a scientist, I guess."

Christian Care, a faith-based not-for-profit organization in Rock Island, has provided food and shelter to record numbers of men, women, and children this year. So far in 2009, Christian Care has served 32,377 meals to residents and the community and provided 6,177 nights of lodging, a 30-percent increase from last year. Because of limited capacity, there is a waiting list at the Domestic Violence Shelter, putting women and children at risk while they remain in dangerous situations. Christian Care has two facilities, the Domestic Violence Shelter for abused women and children and a Rescue Mission for homeless men, where it also has a community meal site. For more information, contact Margaret Babbitt at (309)786-5734 or visit ChristianCareQC.org.

To borrow a phrase from the New York Culinary Institute: "Forgive us if we celebrate the end of summer." Sure, the bounty from the farm shines in the warmer weather; asparagus, berries, and delicate greens abound. But late summer brings its own windfall. This is really when the summer yield reaches its peak.

In the Quad Cities, there is a farmers' market nearly every day of the week, and you will find grocery stores bringing more seasonal, locally grown food into their produce sections. Taking advantage of the abundance of the harvest is a must. The following are seasonal food and beverage suggestions -- starting with the wine.

Humility of Mary Shelter invites the community to join it in celebrating its first birthday. Genesis Health System is sponsoring an open house at the RiverCenter's Iowa Room, 136 East Third Street in Davenport, on Monday, September 21, from 2:30 to 5:30 p.m. Talk to Humility of Mary Shelter staff, meet the co-directors, and see a slide show. For more information, contact, Melanie Jones at melanie.jones714@gmail.com or (563)322-8065. For more information online, visit HumilityOfMaryShelter.com. The shelter will also host a community meeting on Thursday, September 17, at 2 p.m. People will learn what it will take to keep the shelter open along with having the opportunity to share input. The event will be held in classrooms 1 and 2 at the Heart Institute on the Genesis East Campus, 1236 East Rusholme in Davenport.

Tony WagnerTony Wagner, the author of The Global Achievement Gap, will speak in the Quad Cities on September 17. He conducted scores of interviews with business and education leaders and observed classes in some of the most highly regarded public schools. Wagner concluded that despite the best efforts of educators, many students are leaving high school ill-prepared for post-secondary training and ill-equipped to compete in the global marketplace. Wagner will present his findings and strategies for change during a presentation on September 17. "Choices, Changes, & Challenges: Meeting the Needs of 21st Century Students" will take place from 8:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the Quad-Cities Waterfront Convention Center, 2021 State Street in Bettendorf. The $40 registration fee includes print materials, continental breakfast, and lunch. Register online at SolutionWhere.com/mbaea/cw/main.asp or by contacting Donna Brase at (563)344-6481.

Representatives from roughly 60 arts, culture, heritage, and festival organizations on August 26 agreed to create what's tentatively being called the Cultural Marketing Resource Center to facilitate coordinated marketing for Quad Cities attractions and events.

Quad Cities Convention & Visitors Bureau President and CEO Joe Taylor will apply for grants to jump-start the program, with a goal of opening the center by the beginning of 2010. Taylor said that if enough money isn't raised by November, the opening will be delayed. He added that the center could be funded for two years - including the salary of a director dedicated to arts and culture events - for $150,000. Other sources of revenue discussed at Wednesday's meeting were hotel/motel taxes, membership fees, and contributions from private and public sources.

Two national ranking publications, The Princeton Review and U.S. News & World Report, have rated St. Ambrose University among the top universities in the region. St. Ambrose is one of the best universities in the Midwest, according to The Princeton Review. The New York City-based education-services company selected the university as one of 158 institutions of higher education it recommends in its "Best in the Midwest" designation. Colleges named "regional bests" represent only about 25 percent of the nation's four-year colleges. This is the fifth year in a row St. Ambrose has been selected. In U.S. News & World Report, St. Ambrose was ranked 36th among "master's universities" in the Midwest. For more information, go to SAU.edu.

Organic food is often praised as better-tasting and more nutritious than its conventional equivalent, and it's grown with fewer chemicals. But because it typically travels long distances to get to consumers, it has a significant environmental cost.

One alternative is locally grown food, which is of course readily available at the nine farmers' markets in the Quad Cities area.

But you'll likely have difficulty finding locally grown produce at a nearby grocery store. Some stores carry locally produced fruits and vegetables, but the labeling is often nonexistent or unclear, leaving customers uncertain whether they're buying an apple from within a few miles or from across the country.

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