Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Smart Consuming - Electricity Rate Information

Wondering how your electric bill compares with someone who lives in a different part of the country or uses a different utility than you? The Utility Rate Database (URDB) allows you to search the rates of nearly 3,500 utilities by zip code or utility name. According to the Utilities Gateway, you can now "find out exactly how you are charged for your electric energy usage. Understanding this information can help reduce your bill, for example, by running your appliances during off-peak hours (times during the day when electricity prices are less expensive) and help you make more informed decisions regarding your energy usage."

For more ways to evaluate and reduce your energy consumption, check out the library's Green Building Resource Center series, made possible by a generous donation from the Green Building Resource Center (GBRC).

~ Alison, Electronic Resources Librarian

To learn more about the Fauquier County Public Library's collection, events or programs, visit us on Facebook, Twitter or online.

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Learn Technology Skills

Interested in mastering a technology or making the most of your new device?

Look no further than your library card. Here's a roundup of our online offerings for technology help, as well as librarian-recommended websites.

Library Resources

  • Atomic Training is a collection of video courses that cover computers, tablets, Microsoft Office, the Web, online research, and even web development.
  • You can download magazines with Zinio to your computer or device. We subscribe to Apple, iPhone / iPad Life, Mac World, PC Magazine, and PC World.
  • For more technology articles, our online Computer Collection has articles from hundreds of magazines for technology hobbyists and professionals.

New to Computers

  • Mousercise - Learn how to use a mouse. (A similar tutorial is available in Spanish.)
  • Typing Club - Learn how to type. You can register to save your progress, but registration is optional.

Learn Technology Skills

  • Common Craft - Friendly videos that explain how different technologies work.
  • DigitalLearn.org - Video courses on computer skills such as email and job searching.
  • GCF LearnFree.org - Online courses including iPad, social media, and Microsoft Office.
  • In Pictures - Illustrated tutorials for Microsoft Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and Access.
Remember: in addition to public computers, our branches have free WiFi and friendly staff members who can help with many basic computer questions.

Becky @ Warrenton

To learn more about the Fauquier County Public Library's collection, events or programs, visit us on Facebook, Twitter or online.

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

e-Resource of the Month: America's Newspapers from Newsbank

While many newspapers, including the Washington Post and the New York Times, have online editions of their newspapers, access often requires registration and the acceptance of targeted online advertising, or is limited to a few articles per month without a paid subscription. In addition, in some cases the archives (articles older than say, two weeks) are only available for an additional fee. With your Fauquier County Public Library card, you can access more than 1000 regional and national newspapers, ad-free, including their archives, through America's Newspapers from Newsbank.

Coverage includes:

  • Baltimore Sun — from 1990 - current
  • Culpeper Star-Exponent -  from 2007 - current
  • Fredericksburg Free Lance-Star - from 2004 - current
  • New York Post - 1999 - current
  • Philadelphia Inquirer — from 1981 - current
  • Richmond Times Dispatch — from 1985 - current
  • Washington Times — from 1990 - current
  • Winchester Star -  from 2001 - current

As a transplant to Virginia, I love having access to the complete edition of my hometown newspaper back in Michigan. Be sure to check out if your hometown paper is covered!

Teachers/educators will appreciate the Current Events and Special Reports sections, which  focus on topics such as the global economy, conflict and terrorism, and natural disasters.

You will also want to check out America's News Magazines, which includes full-text magazines like the Atlantic, Newsweek and The New Republic.

If you're looking for local reporting (vs. national) or articles that cover a variety of viewpoints, be sure to start your research with America's News from Newsbank.

~Alison, Electronic Resources Librarian

To learn more about the Fauquier County Public Library's collection, events or programs, visit us on Facebook, Twitter or online.

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Fun Science for Kids

Has your child (or children) been enjoying the Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM)-focused activities that have been part of this year's Fizz, Boom, Read/Spark a Reaction summer reading program? If so, you/your child(ren) will want to check out Ology, the American Museum of Natural History's science website for kids.

Choose an OLogy (i.e., a topic) that focuses on subjects as diverse as anthropology, climate change and Einstein. Within each scientific subject area, you will find a number of hands-on activities, games and video/text interviews with scientists in that particular field.

Other websites that will supplement your child's science education include:

  • PBS Kids Science Games - For elementary-age children, games emphasize engineering, nature, animals and more
  • Kids.gov - Loads of online and real-world activities brought to you by various governmental departments and agencies (National Park Service, EPA, etc.)
  • Wonderville - Access more than 30 games, numerous activities and videos for free
  • BBC Schools - Find interactive science games for primary, secondary and higher-level learners (Note: Games focus on UK standards; some in Welsh)
  • Lawrence Hall of Science -Play games and have interactive, engaging experiences as you learn about all manner of science topics
Looking for apps for your tablet or smart phone? Check out reviews for science apps and games for kids on Common Sense Media.

~ Alison, Electronic Resources Librarian

To learn more about the Fauquier County Public Library's collection, events or programs, visit us on Facebook, Twitter or online.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Access New Yorker articles from 2007+ for free

According to an article in the July 8 New York Times, the New Yorker website will offer all the articles it has published since 2007 available free for three months. After three months, you will have to pay a subscription fee (price, details to be determined).

If you're not a subscriber/want to save some money, Fauquier County Public Library has copies of the print edition dating back one year, as well as full-text access to articles from 1978+ (indexed from 1959+).

~Alison, Electronic Resources Librarian

To learn more about the Fauquier County Public Library's collection, events or programs, visit us on Facebook, Twitter or online.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Book, Movie and Media Reviews for Parents

Recently I was helping a patron looking for some good young adult books for her 13 year-old daughter. Her daughter had already devoured the Hunger Games trilogy (books and movies), and mom was looking for something similar, but "not too violent." After showing her some of our book lists and staff recommendations, I mentioned that if she couldn't read the book herself before allowing her daughter to do so (always an option I mention, but not everyone has the time!), she might want to try Common Sense Media.

Since I work in a library (and am a librarian), I usually use Common Sense Media, which contains reviews based on age appropriateness and learning potential, more for movies and apps versus books, but the site has some features that parents (and educators) will find helpful.

For example, when it comes to finding books for my daughter, I normally look at book reviews in publications like School Library Journal -- or better yet, go down the hall and ask Jennifer Schultz, our Youth Services Librarian for recommendations (she always has great picks for us!). However, the thing I like about Common Sense Media's Reviews is that they include a "What parents need to know" chart (see example below), which quickly points out hot buttons like violence, sex and language, etc., giving me fair warning. It also includes educational value, positive role models, etc., areas that I think are sometimes given short shrift when compared to something like bad language.


In the example above, for the Glass Sentence, you can click on the "See full details" link for each area, such as the positive role models and get details such as:


I also like how their user reviews are broken down by what Parents Say and what Kids Say. I usually look at these reviews (especially those written by kids) if I'm undecided.

Bottom line, when my daughter, who is only ten, wants to delve into the latest book aimed at teens (gulp!), I have found Common Sense Media's reviews to be immensely helpful. I hope you will, too!

~ Alison, Electronic Resources Librarian

To learn more about the Fauquier County Public Library's collection, events or programs, visit us on Facebook, Twitter or online.

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Home Improvement Resources

Need ideas for your next home improvement project? We have online resources from the library and the web to get you started.

Library Resources

These online resources are available anywhere with your Fauquier County library card.
  • Download magazines to your device or computer. Titles include Do It Yourself, Dwell, Handyman, and House Beautiful.
  • For more magazine articles, search our Home Improvement Collection for articles on home improvement, architecture, and interior design.

Recommended Websites

  • DIY Network - Instructional articles and videos from the television network. (Unfortunately, a lot of ads.)
  • Federal Trade Commission: Homes - Articles to help you save money, conserve energy, and avoid scams during the home improvement process.
  • Going Green Publications - Information from the federal government about energy efficiency topics.
  • Hometalk - Hometalk is a social network for home improvement. You can browse homeowners' projects and, if you choose to register, submit questions to the community. Since most contributors aren't professionals, you might want to consult a second source before trying anything complex.
  • This Old House - Instructional articles and videos from the creators of the television series. This website does have a lot of ads.
  • Learn DIY Skills on Youtube - This article from the website MakeUseOf lists popular Youtube channels for home improvement videos.
You can also visit our branches to browse our collection of home improvement books, magazines, and DVDs.

Becky @ Warrenton

To learn more about the Fauquier County Public Library's collection, events or programs, visit us on Facebook, Twitter or online.