Thursday, December 20, 2007

Memory Boosters

A Newsweek magazine story earlier this month focused on the field of brain health, specifically memory recall. It reported that not only does physical exercise keep the blood flowing to the brain, it can jumpstart the brain to grow new nerve cells. By regularly engaging in the right activities, you can increase your memory, improve your problem-solving skills and boost your creativity. You can keep your brain in shape and have fun at the same time with Games for the Brain. This site offers users the chance to try their hand at a number of online brain twisters, including Chinese Checkers, Trivia Nut, Guess the Flag and more. The Masterpieces game is especially fun for art buffs -- art history and brain boosting exercise in one shot. Best of all, you won't feel too guilty after spending time playing these games. They are, after all, educational.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Hopefully you're already aware that you can access full-text journals and articles through the library's various subscription databases. For folks who simply prefer "Googling" or searching other large search engines versus specific databases, however, you can now access trusted resources via The web site features over 29 million articles which are searchable by keyword and browseable by subject or publication title. These articles/links are embedded in search engines such as Google, and Yahoo. So if you do a search on a topic and see a link that includes an article on, you'll be able to access the complete article for free. All you need to do is choose your library (Bealeton, John Marshall and Warrenton libraries are all listed) and enter in you library card number.

New to the Collection Lists Updated

Check out the latest updates to our New to the Collection section of the online catalog (OPAC). Most of these lists (New Fiction, New Mysteries, etc.) are updated monthly. In some instances (Nuevos Libros en Espanol for example), the lists are updated on a quarterly basis. The latest Non Fiction list includes technology-related titles for seniors using Windows Vista as well as MySpace for Moms and Dads. Also, just in time for the holidays, Ex-Etiquette for Holidays and Other Family Celebrations.

Improve Your Vocabulary, Improve Lives

There is an addictive new vocabulary game on the Internet at Basically you test your knowledge of words and for each correct answer, FreeRice (the sister site of donates 20 grains of rice through the United Nations World Food Program. What level of vocabulary will you achieve?

Check out related library materials:

Thursday, December 6, 2007

For the Birds

Along with toxic toys, now is the time to turn your attention to the Audubon Christmas Bird Count (CBC), the oldest and largest citizen science event in the world. The count runs Dec. 14 through Jan. 5.

Guide to Toxic Toys

Before Santa (or Mom and Dad) decide to give little Suzy that Go Diego Go backpack, they may want to first check the database of toxic toys. The database includes test results for more than 1,200 toys and children's products and provides an overall product rating -- low, medium or high. Parents can search by toy name or browse by brand or type (construction toys, for example). The site also includes a list of best and worst toys.

Things to note:
  • With much fanfare (I read about it in yesterday's Washington Post), the site was just unveiled 12/5/07, and is thus experiencing heavy traffic. Be prepared for site delays during times of peak Internet usage.

  • The levels are not intended to correspond to levels known to cause health effects. Rather, they are meant to indicate whether these hazardous materials are in the toy and to provide an approximation of the concentration of the material in the toy surface.

  • If your toy isn't in the database, and you'd like them to test it for you, just view their list and cast your vote or nominate your toy. The site claims that they will test the most requested toys weekly.

  • At first you might be under the impression that in order to view any of the information on toys, the site requires you to sign in. When I first started poking around, I was presented with a form to fill out - "By providing your name and address, we can keep you up to date on opportunities to influence state, national and corporate policies on chemicals in toys, so that children's products are healthy for all kids and families." However, I just hit the back button and was able to browse toys by type, etc., without registering.