Monday, December 15, 2008

Teachers -- Assignment Alerts

Teachers -- did you know that the Fauquier County Public Library Web site has an extensive collection of links to online resources and items to check out from the library that are geared at educators, specifically those based in Virginia? Be sure to check out the resources broken down by subject, such as English & Reading and Math & Science.

The library's Web site also has a link to an online assignment alert form you (the teacher) can fill out to alert library staff to upcoming projects your students will be assigned. Often library staff will notice that several students will come in at varying times and all request items on a particular topic. This past week we've had high school students looking for any and all information on the Kindertransport). One of the benefits of teaching staff sending us an alert is that we can set aside items that will be helpful to the students (and staff can familiarize themselves with the contents of the assignment) and if needed, can pull circulating items so that all students will have access to what may be a limited resource.

One other thing to note is that often students will tell library staff that "no Internet content is allowed." It's important to keep in mind that many legitimate reference resources from our online databases may be confused for being "Internet" resources, i.e., unsubstantiated information from non-legitimate or unacceptable Web sites (i.e., someone's personal blog posting). eBooks and information obtained from online databases are indeed legitimate items from the library's collection -- they just happen to be in electronic format versus print. If a teacher indeed does not want a student to use any online (i.e., non-print) resources for his/her term paper, please note this in the online assignment alert form. Our goal is to better serve you and your students.

Research Companies

Whether you're job hunting, brushing up for an interview or doing research before you invest, there are a number of online resources that will help you with your decision-making.

  • Business and Company Resource Center - Use your library card number to access this Find It Virginia resource. Access company profiles, industry overviews and articles on specific businesses.
  • SEC Filings & Forms (EDGAR) - All companies, foreign and domestic, are required to file registration statements, periodic reports, and other forms electronically through EDGAR. Anyone can access and download this information for free. Also access regulatory actions and investor information.
  • Hoover's Online - Though portions of the site are subscription (fee) only, they do allow users to freely access industry overviews, company listings (alphabetically, by industry type, geography, SIC listing and most viewed). Information includes overview, competitor listing, recent news articles, and more.
  • Reference USA - Available inside your local library, find detailed information on over 14 million businesses throughout the United States. Searchable by name, SIC code, yellow pages listing and more. Especially helpful if you're looking to target companies by geographic region or are researching corporate relationships (headquarters versus branch, etc.).
  • Vault.com - Another subscription site that provides a lot of free information for non-subscribers. For job seekers who have a specific company in mind, the message boards are invaluable - feedback on company practices from actual employees.

Job Hunting on the Internet


Job Hunting on the Internet
Fauquier County Public Library's reference department has put together two (2) new brochures on career and job hunting resources on the Internet. Last week I posted on Career Resources on the Internet. This week, my post focuses specifically on some of the job hunting resources included in the print brochure.

NOTE: See also my previous posts on Ferguson's Career Guidance Center and Career Advancement Tools and Resources.

All-Purpose Job Banks
These large employment Web sites allow job seekers to post resumes online, search for jobs and allow contact by employers.
  • America's Job Exchange - Specializes in non-executive jobs and offers a comprehensive set of tools and resources needed to manage your career online.
  • Careerbuilder.com - Search by company, industry, job category. Includes international jobs and jobs posted in Spanish.
  • Monster.com - Probably the most comprehensive (and well known) site of all, offering job listings, resume assistance, interviewing tips and more. If you are a recent college graduate or looking for entry-level work or an internship, check out their monster COLLEGE section.
  • Yahoo! Careers - Another large-scale employment site with various career tools and career question and answers.
Federal Government Jobs
  • USAJOBS.gov - The official job site of the United States Federal Government. Search for jobs by grade, salary, agency, location, etc., and apply online. Get the scoop on jobs in demand and details on working for the U.S. government. If you are a student, check out Student Jobs for applicants in high school, college and/or graduate school.
State and Local Government Jobs
  • Virginia Jobs - Find everything you need to explore a career in state government.
  • Fauquier County Government - Browse job openings and apply online for a general government or public schools job in Fauquier County.
  • Town of Warrenton - Employment opportunities in the Town of Warrenton.
State, Regional and Local Jobs
  • Virginia Workforce Connection - Comprehensive job matching between job seekers and employers in Virginia.
  • Craig's List - Search job listings for Washington, DC metro area, Northern Virginia and a growing list of Virginia communities.
  • ShenandoahValleyHelpWanted.com - Post your resume for local employers, search/browse for local jobs.
  • TimesCommunity.com - Browse all of the employment ads in the Times-Community family of newspapers, including the Fauquier Times-Democrat, Rappahannock News and Culpeper Times.
  • Washington Post Jobs - Thousands of job listings in and around Washington, D.C.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Increase Text Size on the Fly

Say you're browsing a Web site and want to zoom in on something or increase the text size on the fly. There are a few ways you can do this. In your IE browser menu bar, go to View > Text Size and increase to the size you want is one example. Using the Ctrl key + moving the wheel on your mouse, however, is probably the easiest way to zoom in on something (and fun to do). Try it now - hold down Ctrl key and move the scroll button on your mouse (scrolling up should increase, down should decrease) and watch what's in your browser window increase/decrease.

NOTE: Your mouse must have a wheel on it (scrolling wheel between the left and right buttons) to work.


Thursday, December 4, 2008

Career Resources on the Internet

Fauquier County Public Library's reference department has put together two (2) new brochures on career and job hunting resources on the Internet. This post focuses specifically on career resources. I will list the job hunting sites in my next post.

NOTE: See also my previous posts on Ferguson's Career Guidance Center and Career Advancement Tools and Resources.

Career Resources
General/Gateway Sites - The following "Über" sites provide a number of resources, including job descriptions, career paths, educational requirements and more.
  • CareerOneStop - This umbrella site offers a vast array of information on careers, job openings, labor trends and job services.
  • Career-Intelligence.com - Geared toward women, this site has numerous articles on job-hunting, self-assessment, career management and balancing work and personal life.
    Career Voyages - Produced by the U. S. Departments of Labor and Education, this site offers infor-mation on high-growth, in-demand occupations and the skills and education required.
  • Ferguson’s Career Guidance Center - An extensive database for exploring careers and planning a job search. Find detailed descriptions of over 3,300 jobs and 94 industries, career paths, skills assessments, educational requirements, schools and financial aid. Download sample resumes and cover letters, watch videos and get interviewing tips. Free access with your FCPL card.
  • Job-Hunt.org - Lists numerous sites offering job searches by industry or profession, location and networking possibilities.
  • JobHuntersBible.com - A supplement to Dick Bolles’ book What Color is Your Parachute?, this site offers extensive advice and web links for job hunters and career changers.
  • O*Net — Occupational Information Network Resource Center - The Department of Labor’s O*Net replaces the Dictionary of Occupational Titles. Search occupations by keyword, job family, level of preparation and other variables; link to O*Net Online for complete job descriptions.
  • Occupational Outlook Handbook - This U. S. Department of Labor publication gives detailed information on many occupations, including job prospects, working conditions, educational requirements and pay. Link to the companion publication, Career Guide to Industries, for similar data by broad industry groups.
  • States’ Career Clusters - The official website for the States’ Career Clusters Initiative (SCCI), which helps states as they connect career technical education (CTE) to education, workforce preparation and economic development. Find career pathways, plans of study and skills charts.
  • Wetfeet.com - Career and industry profiles, job-hunting strategies and resume and interviewing tips.

Career Assessment

Salary Information

  • Salary.com- Its Salary Wizard calculates salary ranges for various experience levels and geographic locations.
  • Salaryexpert.com - Basic salary and cost of living calculators are free; purchase premium reports for personalized information.

Careers in Virginia

  • KnowHowVirginia.org - Explore occupations with links to VirginiaView and locate educational programs.
  • Virginia Career VIEW - “Virginia’s Career Planning System” gives extensive information on many occupations, with sections for students, parents and educators. Find job descriptions, duties, working conditions, earnings and employment projections, with emphasis on Virginia.
  • Virginia Workforce Connection - "Your doorway to employment and labor market information in Virginia.” Assess job skills, research careers, find industry and company data and search for jobs and training opportunities.

Offline, check out the following career resources from your local library:


Holiday Fun

Looking for a way to have your kids help with the holiday decorations (versus just getting underfoot)? Check out these creative holiday craft projects for children (and adults) of all ages...

Don't forget -- you can also place a hold and check out craft resources for children and adults from your local library!

Monday, November 24, 2008

December e-Resource: Ferguson's Career Guidance Center

Getting the job you want is often difficult. FCPL is here to help you with free access to Ferguson's Career Guidance Center. This online tool is broken down in logical areas for ease-of-use:

Jobs - Get detailed information on more than 3300 jobs in 94 industries. To facilitate your search, Ferguson's breaks down jobs and industries into 16 clusters, such as "government and public" and "hospitality and tourism."

Skills - Resume and job hunting skills, including sample cover letters and resumes, along with practical advice on communicating, professional etiquette, working with teams and problem-solving.

Resources - A school search, which allows you to browse a selected list of American colleges and universities to find one that fits your needs as well as the various career assessment tests available (Myers-Briggs, etc.) and where to find them. This section also includes resource guides for specific populations, such as women, minorities and people with disabilities.

Videos - Explore jobs and industries, as well as career skills, by watching hundreds of informative videos.

Ferguson's also includes a monthly career opportunities newsletter, a "My Life" feature, which explores a day in the life of a particular career-holder and a "Focus On" section which provides in-depth information on a particular career sector.

To access Ferguson's Career Guidance Center, go to the library's Web site (library.fauquiercounty.gov) and click on the Search for Articles & More link, under Find Information. Ferguson's is listed under Education, Test Prep and Careers.
Related Links:

Learn a Foreign Language Month

December is Learn a Foreign Language Month. Here are a few free online resources to assist you in your quest to become multilingual:


Of course, you don't have to go online to learn a language. The library has a number of items in the collection for learning a new language, including:

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Native American Heritage Month

American Indian Heritage Month, also known as Native American Heritage Month and National American Indian and Alaska Native Heritage Month, began with an effort to gain a day of recognition for the significant contributions the First Americans made to the establishment and growth of the United States. This effort, which began in the early part of the 20th century, resulted in the month of November being designated for that purpose.

InfoPlease has put together a fairly exhaustive Web site that covers notable Native Americans, quotations, information on Native American placenames, tribe listings and even quizzes to test what you've learned. InfoPlease does rely on advertising, however, so watch out for the annoying popup ads.

You can always count on the Library of Congress (LOC) to provide wonderful online resources and source material for specific populations. For Native American Heritage Month, the LOC has partnered with the National Archives and Records Administration, National Endowment for the Humanities, National Gallery of Art, National Park Service, Smithsonian Institution and the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum join in paying tribute to the rich ancestry and traditions of Native Americans. The Web site includes images, audio and links to specific collections and exhibitions related to or encompassing Native American history, as well as lesson plans and activities for teachers and students.

The National Education Association (NEA) has released a recommended reading list that includes titles ranging from such pre-K classics as 'Mama, Do You Love Me' to Tony Hillerman's Joe Leaphorn Series that has been "thrilling young (and older) adults for more than a decade." The list includes titles listed by grade level and include fiction, non-fiction and poetry.

Tony Hillerman fans may also want to check out the PBS American Mystery Specials - Based on the Novels by Tony Hillerman site. This online resource includes a Hillerman biography and interview, a list of his books featuring Lieutenant Joe Leaphorn and Sergeant Jim Chee of the Navajo Tribal Police, material on the Navajo yesterday and today, and details about the novels made into films (such as synopses, and novel and script excerpts). There are also links to related sites.

The Smithsonian National Museum of the American Indian's Web site does not have much in the way of online resources, instead focusing on providing information of exhibits and details on visiting the museum (located in Washington, DC) itself. However, they do have an online guide to World War II (WWII) and the use of Native American "Code Talkers" as well as a unique Web site on Native American-produced media called Native Networks, for both English and Spanish speakers/readers.

The library subscribes to several online databases that can help you with research on Native Americans:
  • Biography Resource Center (via Find It Virginia) - Allows you to browse for biographical information on the category Native Americans;
  • Both Britannica Online and World Book Online (kids' and regular versions) - Include in-depth research articles on Native Americans;
  • Ancestry Library (in-library use only) - Nineteen (19) databases available that cover specific Native American tribes as well as U.S. Indian Census Schedules;
  • NoveList - Allows you to search for titles/authors on or by Native Americans. They also have an Author Read-Alikes list for Tony Hillerman that feature author and series that feature Native American protagonists and customs. Also check out their Recommended Reads section, where they have book lists on Native Americans and Native American Mysteries;
As I run across more educational resources on the Web, I will be adding them to this blog posting.

The Plum Book

Looking for a job in the Obama Administration? Check out the Government Printing Office's new release of United States Government Policy and Supporting Positions, otherwise known as the Plum Book. Published every four years, after the Presidential election, it “contains data … on over 7,000 Federal civil service leadership and support positions in the legislative and executive branches of the Federal Government that may be subject to noncompetitive appointment (e.g., positions such as agency heads and their immediate subordinates, policy executives and advisors, and aides who report to these officials). The duties of many such positions may involve advocacy of Administration policies and programs and the incumbents usually have a close and confidential working relationship with the agency head or other key officials.” The data includes salary figures, too. For information on purchasing a print copy or for a copy in TEXT format, visit GPO Access.

Once you've gone through the Plum Book and have landed a job with the new Administration, you'll want to check out the Transition Directory. The Transition Directory was "developed to introduce Presidential nominees, appointees, and members of the President-elect's Transition Team to the operation of the Federal government and to the resources available to help them begin their service in the new Administration." The site includes common abbreviations and acronyms that would be useful to any student of government or reader of the Washington Post.

Friday, November 7, 2008

College Planning

Fall is a busy time on the college-planning calendar.

College fairs and financial aid nights kick into high gear. Younger students will be taking the PSAT. Students and parents need to do their homework on scholarships and ways to pay for a college education. Senior will be completing their college/university applications as well as their Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA).

The Fauquier County Public Library's web site has a number of e-resources available for students and parents, including:

Peterson's Testing and Education Reference Center - In addition to numerous online practice tests and test prep e-books, TERC includes a college search tool with over 4,000 4- and 2-year colleges. Students can search for colleges stating specific criteria and even have colleges recruit them by registering with CollegesWantYou.

Recently updated test prep ebooks include SAT II Subject Success in Biology, Literature, Physics and U.S. History.

The site also includes college credit test prep for 17 Advanced Placement (AP) courses. With 2 timed, full-length practice tests in each subject, students can get to know their exams well before test day. Each practice test offers 90-days access.

For high school students not ready or interested in pursuing college/university, TERC also includes a Speciality & Career Program Search. Students can explore career colleges, search for vocational programs, distance learning programs and accredited 2-year programs in information technology (network administration, etc.).

Career-minded high school students should also log in to Ferguson's Career Guidance Center, a resource recently added to the library's collection. The database includes information (articles and videos) on more than 3,300 jobs and 94 industries, broken down into 16 "Career Clusters" created by the Department of Education. College-bound students also benefit from this resource, as it will help them determine which colleges will help them meet career goals.

For more information on college entrance exam resources (SAT, ACT), see my Oct. 15 post. There are also additional resources on the For the College Bound page of the library's Web site.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

November eResource - Bloom's Literary Reference Online

Have a paper due on Henry James? Look no further than Bloom's Literary Reference Online. With more than 15,000 entries on births, deaths, publications, and events in world literature from the ancient era to the present day, this online database includes...
  • Biographies of thousands of authors from around the world, browsable by nationality, type of writing, or time periods ranging from ancient to modern

  • Overviews, synopses, analyses, and literary criticism of thousands of works—from novels to poetry to plays—browsable by genre and time period or alphabetically

  • In-depth, full-text entries on literary movements, literary groups, magazines and newspapers, and historical events that help place literature in context, as well as definitions of literary terms

  • A dictionary of more than 34,000 entries with concise, informative definitions, many with pronunciation, etymology, and syllable breaks of the word

  • Information on more than 42,000 major and minor literary characters, including where they first appeared, what part they played in the plot, and how they are related to other literary characters

  • Essays on how to write about literature, including essays by Harold Bloom on popularly assigned authors

  • Harold Bloom's Western Canon: Professor Bloom's selections of the major works of Western literature through the present day

Bloom's also includesvideo segments covering a range of topics—from biographies of writers to critical analysis of plays to literary genres.

To access this resource for free, simply go to the library's Web site, click on Find Information > Search for Articles and More. Under Literature and eBooks, you'll see a link to the Bloom's log in page. You'll need your Fauquier County Public Library card in order to continue. If you don't have a card, apply for one online.

Monday, October 20, 2008

More News You Can Use

Back in December, 2007, I introduced readers to America's Newspapers from Newsbank, a subscription-based online resource available for free to Fauquier County Public Library card holders and users.

Since then, there have been a number of improvements made to this news resource, including the addition of over 900 regional newspapers, including the Culpeper Star-Exponent and the Winchester Star (previously we just had access to five papers -the Baltimore Sun, Philadelphia Enquirer, Washington Post, Washington Times and Richmond Times-Dispatch), as well as video news segments from sources like the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, U.S. News & World Report and the NBA and NHL.
To access America's Newspapers from Newsbank from home, visit the library's Web site (listed under Find Information > Search for Articles & More) and enter your 10-digit library card.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

College Entrance Exam Resources

The next ACT test date is October 25. The next date for the SAT and Subject Tests is November 1. Are you ready?

Your Fauquier County Public Library card allows you to access Peterson's online practice tests and test prep e-books for free. You'll also want to take advantage of the books and other materials available for checkout. For details, see the For the College Bound section on the library's Web site.

On the Web, the College Board has an official SAT Preparation Center with links to test prep questions, an official practice test and more. Be aware that they also use the site to try and sell you test prep workbooks and guides.

The ACT student site also has free test prep, including test taking tips and test descriptions. You may also want to check out their student blog and hear from real students about their experiences preparing for and taking the exam.

For the 2008-2009 schedule of test dates, registration deadlines and fees, see the College Board (SAT) and the ACT web sites.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

October e-Resource: World Book Online

Have a paper due? Teachers want students to cite actual reference materials, including the trusted World Book Encyclopedia ("research" via Google or "the Internet" just isn't going to cut it). The good news is that there's no need to drive to the library and pore through a multi-volume encyclopedia set. Instead, search all the articles from the regular 22-volume World Book print set, along with more than 12,000 pictures and maps, 10,000 sound files and 100 videos and animations from the comfort of your home computer using World Book Online. The site also includes special features like the Virginia Resource Guide and Today in History. For younger students, there is the World Book Kids version, which features student activities and teacher guides, sound clips and a student-friendly search engine. For Spanish-speakers, World Book Online also offers World Book Enciclopedia Estudiantil Hallazgos.

To access any of the World Book Online resources, go to the library's Web site, look under Find Information and click on Search for Articles and More. The World Book resources are listed under Encyclopedias and Reference. You will need to enter your 10-digit library card number in order to access from home/outside of the library.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month

Hispanic Heritage Month runs from September 15 through October 15. The observation started in 1968 as Hispanic Heritage Week under President Lyndon Johnson and was enacted into law in 1988. The day of Sept. 15 is significant because it is the anniversary of independence for Latin American countries Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras and Nicaragua. In addition, Mexico and Chile celebrate their independence days on Sept. 16 and Sept.18, respectively. Also, Columbus Day or Día de la Raza, which is Oct. 12, falls within this 30 day period. Incidentally, the word Hispanic does not refer to race, but is an ethnic term for diverse peoples of many races and origins who hold in common the Spanish language.

Explore the following online resources and bring Latino heritage to your home and classroom:

The library's subscriptions to World Book Online, Britannica Online and Find It Virginia (includes the Biography Resource Center, which includes a category browse for Hispanic Americans), provide a multitude of background documents, timelines and biographical sketches to assist students with school reports. Just log in with your 10-digit Fauquier County Public Library card number.

Scholastic.com's Celebrate Latino Heritage site includes lesson plans for grades K-2, 3-5, 6-8 and high school students. Storytelling, writing and art are emphasized. Additional activities (Pinata Concentration Game) and background information (famous Latinos, Latinos in history, etc.) for all ages are part of the Celebrate Hispanic Heritage! section.

Gale Cengage Learning offers a number of free resources, including biographies of noteworthy Hispanics, quizzes and a timeline.

Biography.com celebrates Hispanic Heritage with featured biographies, study guides, online videos and a Latino trivia game.

Thinkfinity offers a rich collection of free lesson plans, activities and educational resources to educators.

The National Register of Historic Places web site highlights various properties listed in the National Register, travel itineraries, education lesson plans and National Parks that deal directly with the cultural and political experiences of Hispanic Americans.

Smithsonian Education features online educational activities and events at the various Smithsonian museums in Washington, DC. For example, Smithsonian Global Sound offers free music and videos from Latin American and from Hispanic communities in the U.S. A student activity is included.

The Library of Congress' National Hispanic Heritage Month online exhibit includes images and audio/visual presentations that bring history alive for young and old alike.

The National Education Association has compiled several booklists for grades kindergarten through adult that introduce readers to a rich vein of literature with a distinctly Hispanic sensibility. Be sure to check the library's online catalog to place titles on hold for pickup at your local branch.

Of course, the library also has plenty of materials on Hispanic Americans you can check out and take home to enjoy.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Celebrate the Constitution

Did you know that Constitution Day is September 17? On that date in 1787, the U.S. Constitution was signed by our Founding Fathers. Now Constitution Day (or Citizenship Day) is a time for the citizens of the United States to reflect and celebrate the history of the American Constitution.

You can read more about the U.S. Constitution and the history of the United States in World Book Online and Britannica Online by logging in with your library card number, or check out our new We the People Bookshelf along with other items in our online catalog:
Below are some Web sites that provide educational materials and activities for educators and students:

The National Constitution Center's Constitution Day site includes resources for teachers/students/community leaders/military members, all searchable by resource type and age group. The search defaults to free resources only, but note that the site does include items that require payment to use. There is also a handy calendar of Constitution Day events and special audio visual resources.

The National Archives Teaching with Documents program covers Observing Constitution Day, a listing of activities, lesson plans and information related to our Constitution and government. Students in grades 4-12 can participate in an online U.S. Constitution Workshop.

The Bill of Rights Institute provides numerous activities for teachers and middle and high school students. Examples include weekly eLessons which offer 20-minute discussion guides for middle and high school history and government teachers. Each eLesson includes a lively background reading, discussion questions and extension options. High School students can enter the Being an American Essay Contest for a chance to win up to $5000.

"Constitution Day is every day" at the U.S. Courts. Older students interested in legal theory may want to check out the streaming videos and online recordings that cover various interpretations of the Constitution by some of our U.S. Supreme Court justices as well as other Constitution-related educational resources.

After reading up on our founding document, you can test your knowledge by taking this online quiz offered by ConstitutionFacts.com.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

eResource of the Month for September: Grant Research

Did you know that the Bealeton branch of the Fauquier County Public Library is a Cooperating Collection of the Foundation Center? The Bealeton Cooperating Collection is one of more than 240 Cooperating Collections in the U.S., and its mission is to help grant seekers find funding.

The Cooperating Collection at the Bealeton Library includes free access to two (2) online databases:

  1. Foundation Directory Online Professional - Searchable by keyword, granting organization, location, etc., this database, geared at non-profit organizations, includes over 92,000 foundations, corporate giving programs, and grantmaking public charities in the U.S.; a database of nearly 3,600 sponsoring companies, offering a quick pathway to corporate funders; a database of over 1.3 million recently awarded grants; and a keyword-searchable database of over 527,000 recently filed IRS Forms 990 and 990-PF.
  2. Foundation Grants to Individuals Online - An online database of more than 6,200 foundation and public charity programs that fund students (i.e., fund your education), artists, researchers, and other individual (versus non-profit organizations) grantseekers, including small businesses.

How the Cooperating Collection print resources and the online databases can help you:

  • Learn the basics of grant seeking and grant making
  • Gather information about grant proposals and proposal writing
  • Find detailed profiles for foundations and corporate givers
  • Explore additional topics related to philanthropy and fundraising
There is no charge to users for this service, but you must visit the Bealeton Library in person to access the databases. Stop by the reference desk for more information and/or assistance.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Election Resources for Students

Looking for some good Web sites for students that explore the ins and outs of politics and this year's presidential election?

Scholastic's Election 2008 includes a profile of each party candidate, campaign news, an election blog (posts from the national conventions, etc.) written specifically for kids, election games and a presidential poll for students. The site's Explore the Election section also includes everything you need to know about the Electoral College, campaigning, the candidates views on specific issues, the various political parties (not just Democrat vs. Republican), tips from journalists if you're a kid reporting on the elections and information on how government works. The site includes lesson plans and activities for use in the classroom and parents will appreciate the special Parent Guide to the 2008 Presidential Elections.

High school students can compare the candidates' positions on 25 issues on the non-partisan VoteGopher site. Issues covered include Iraq, poverty, government reform, abortion and stem cell research and more. VoteGopher, which was founded in 2007 by a Harvard sophomore, provides background on the issues, clearly lays out each candidates' position and even allows you to vote on your preference of candidate for that specific issue.

America.gov, from the U.S. Department of State also has an online Guide to the 2008 Election that includes a delegate diary, the U.S. electoral system, a quick look of candidate's views on key issues such as Iraq, energy and climate change and immigration and a close-up view of state in local issues in seven (7) districts, including Virginia's 2nd district.

The Democracy Project, from PBS, provides a kids' tour of government, "Be the President for a Day," and a discussion of the importance of voting.

TIME for Kids' Election Connection 2008, geared at younger elementary students includes campaign games, an "electionary" of important words in this year's election, and a government guide that you can use to contact your representatives in Washington, D.C.

Want to expand the discussion beyond just this year's election? Check out Presidents: The Secret History, from PBS Kids. Here you can find out some presidential facts that are unfamiliar to most people. For example, did you know that Harry Truman had read all 2,000 books in his public library by the time he graduated from high school?

Another great site on government in general, broken down by grade level, is Ben's Guide to U.S. Government from the U.S. Government Printing Office. This will save you time from tracking down the various government agency Web sites that explain how it all works.

The Online NewsHour's EXTRA election site, geared at teachers to use in the classroom, includes news updates, student-written content, lesson plans and more.

Finally, the Washington Post's Campaign 2008 site provides the older student with in-depth candidate profiles and related topics, including campaign finance, presidential endorsements, a Choose Your Candidate Quiz and an Electoral College Predication Map, which allows you to save/share your picks as well as see past election results.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Virginia Resource Guide for Students

Do you or does your son/daughter have a report due on the Old Dominion? A quick way to get the facts on Virginia is through World Book Encyclopedia. Instead of relying on questionable results from a Google search or sifting through multiple sources, log in to World Book with your library card and click on the Explore Virginia tab. Here you'll find information on the people, land, climate, economy, education system and any special reports that the editors of World Book have published. There are even links to related Web sites that have been carefully selected by the editors of World Book.

Monday, August 18, 2008

Internet Scams - Fight Back

If you believe you are the victim of an Internet crime, or if you are aware of an attempted crime, you can file a complaint with the Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3). The IC3 is a partnership between the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), the National White Collar Crime Center (NW3C) and the Bureau of Justice Assistance (BJA). Even if you are lucky enough not to have a complaint to file, I urge you to check out IC3's list of current and ongoing Internet trends and schemes (the FBI has a list as well) along with their prevention tips before you enter into your next transaction over the 'Net.

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Consumer Reports -- Access it for Free!

While you can always visit your local library to look at the latest issues of Consumer Reports, did you know you can access the full-text of Consumer Reports from your computer? It's free and all you need is your library card number.
  1. Go to the library's Web site (library.fauquiercounty.gov)
  2. Click on Search for Articles & More from the left-hand menu
  3. Consumer Reports can be found in the following Find It Virginia-sponsored databases from Gale - InfoTrac OneFile, General Reference Center Gold, Business & Company Resource Center and InfoTrac Student Edition, among others
  4. When you've selected the database you want, you'll need to enter your library system and library card number to begin your search

The Gale databases allow you to search by publication title, so if you wanted to get reviews on laptop computers, for instance, you could search keyword "laptops" and enter "consumer reports" in the publication field.

Monday, August 4, 2008

Olympians in the Spotlight

Beginning August 8, the opening night of the Beijing Games, the "Spotlight" on the homepage of Biography Resource Center will focus on Dara Torres, who is returning to the Games for a record-setting fifth time. In addition, there is a new category browse list of Summer Olympic Athletes from the past and present. This list is one click away in the "Top 5 Topic" box at the upper left of the Biography Resource Center homepage, and includes more than 90 athletes spanning sports and countries. More than a third of the listees are international. Athlete biographies will be updated as medals are recorded.

To access Biography Resource Center, click on Find Information > Search for Articles & More. Biography Resource Center is listed under Encylopedias & Reference. You'll need your Fauquier County Public Library card to log into the database, which is part of Find It Virginia.

Friday, August 1, 2008

Library Computer Classes

Starting in September, the library will be expanding computing training classes from monthly to a weekly basis at the Warrenton and John Marshall branches.

Warrenton Library will host the classes on Tuesdays from 9-10 a.m. The John Marshall branch will host classes on Wednesdays from 11 a.m.-noon. Space is limited and advance registration is required. Please call the Warrenton or John Marshall branch to reserve a space.

Week 1 - Internet Basics –Learn basic Internet terminology and the fundamentals of navigating the World Wide Web using the Internet Explorer browser. This class, aimed at beginners, includes an introduction to library's web site and lots of practice with the mouse.

Week 2 - Introduction to Web-based E-Mail – Learn how to create and access a free e-mail account from any computer. Students should be familiar with computers and the Internet.

Week 3 - Search & Explore the Internet –Students will use popular search engines, Internet directories and the Library’s own Web site to find information. Students should be familiar with computers and the Internet.

Week 4 - Advanced Internet Topics –Students will learn how to create/store documents online for easy access and free tools they can use to “blog,” keep an online calendar and create their own Web site. Students should be comfortable using the computer and the Internet.

The Bealeton Library will continue to host a monthly class, Introduction to the Internet, in both English (1st Wednesday of the month) and Spanish (3rd Wednesday of the month).

e-Resource of the Month for August: InfoTrac Student Edition

This month’s featured electronic resources are InfoTrac Student Edition and InfoTrac Junior Edition.

Accessible via your library card on Find It Virginia, InfoTrac K-12 Student Edition is the one-stop, multi-source general reference center designed especially for high school students. It provides a combination of abstracts, images and full text articles covering general interest periodicals, maps, reference books and thousands of newspaper articles. Full-text publications include Consumer Reports, History Today, Modern Language Quarterly and numerous regional newspapers.

InfoTrac Junior Edition, for middle school students, features more than 300 indexed and 300 full-text general interest magazines, thousands of newspaper articles, dictionaries and more than 300 maps.

InfoTrac's Junior and Senior editions are a preferred alternative to "Googling" for information because they offer screened, age-appropriate, reliable content that is acceptable for homework assignments.

To search for magazine and newspaper articles and other electronic resources from all the library's databases, visit our Web site.

Monday, July 21, 2008

More Free Computer Training

While we're on the subject of online tips for Microsoft Office, I ran across a site today that highlights 100 free webinars and tutorials. Many of the resources mentioned are related to computers and technology, but the compilation also includes sites that cover autorepair, arts and crafts, all kinds of do-it-yourself projects. The site that compiled the list, College @ Home, focuses on online colleges and distance learning programs, but the blog postings are helpful to anyone who uses a computer for work or pleasure.

See also previous postings on free and easy computer tutorials and free online small business courses

Friday, July 18, 2008

Microsoft Office Tips

If you use Microsoft's Office productivity software (Word, Excel, PowerPoint, etc.), whether at home or at Fauquier County Public Library, these sites are sure to be of interest.

  • Check out TechRepublic's 60 indispensable Microsoft Word tips, which are broken down into Basics, Advanced, Things You Don't Have to Do and New to Word 2007.
  • View webcasts, video tips, podcasts, and more on Microsoft Office Online.
  • The Windows Users Group Network offers computing tips for Microsoft Office. Lots of tips, but not broken down by Office application (Word, Excel, etc.), which can make using this a tad cumbersome. Still, a good resource to keep handy.
  • Carol's Corner Office free Word Bytes Newsletter is a bi-monthly newsletter with a variety of tips on using MS Office applications.

Monday, July 14, 2008

Encyclopedia of Life

Encyclopedia of Life (EOL)
Released to the public in February, 2008, this website "is an unprecedented global effort . ... by [n]atural history museums, botanical gardens, other research institutions, and dedicated individuals ... to create the most complete biodiversity database on the Web."

Basically it's a wikipedia that's devoted to biodiversity.

There are currently about 25 exemplar species pages (actually endorsed by scientists), covering species such as the yellow fever mosquito, peregrine falcon, death cap mushroom, and cacao. There are also tens of thousands of additional species pages that do not have as rich of content and are not authenticated by an actual scientist.

Materials include photos, description, and details about ecology and cultural relevance.

This is a great resource for the high school or college student studying the natural sciences or anyone who is interested in having a better understanding of life on our planet.

URL: http://www.eol.org/

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

e-Resource of the Month for July: Access Science

This month’s featured electronic resource is Access Science, which turns the world’s leading science encyclopedia, McGraw-Hill Encyclopedia of Science and Technology, into an online resource delivering the same high-quality information of the print set along with the bonus of up-to-date additions including:
  • New/updated articles (no need to wait for the print edition to come out!)

  • More than 2,000 in-depth biographies of leading scientists throughout history

  • Weekly updates on breakthroughs and discoveries in the world of science and technology

  • Study Center that includes suggested study topics and guides for AP science, essays and other scientific programs of study

  • Q&A - Answers to your scientific questions from Access Science experts

  • Image galleries that allow users to explore scientific phenomena through pictures

Use your library card to access this terrific resource on the library’s Web site under Find Information > Search for Articles & More or ask for help when you are at the library.

Friday, June 20, 2008

Drive a Green Machine

With gas prices soaring, more people are turning to hybrid and other more fuel-efficient vehicles. If you're looking to make a change to your automobile situation, the edmunds.com Green Car Guide is a great place to start. Highlights of the Green Car Guide include:

  • Car buying tips during a slow economy
  • Diesel vs. Hybrid
  • The real cost of owning a hybrid
  • Tips on improving gas mileage

Related links:

For additional resources on car buying in general, check out my posts:

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Small Business 101

Over ten million people each year consider starting a business. As a result, more than three million new small businesses are started annually. A number of free online courses are offered by the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) to help prospective and existing entrepreneurs better understand the basics about starting and running a successful small business.

Topics covered include:
  • Starting a Business
  • Business Planning
  • Business Management
  • Financing & Accounting
  • Marketing & Advertising
  • Government Contracting
  • Small Business Retirement
  • E-Commerce
  • International Trade
  • Federal Tax Training
In general, the courses are all self-paced and should take about 30 minutes to complete. Most of the courses require a brief online registration. Many of the SBA courses are in Spanish.

The library also has a number of items in the collection to assist you with business planning and management. Check out the 650s in the nonfiction section of your local library.

Want to be computer-savvy as well as business-savvy? See my earlier post on free and easy computer tutorials.

Sunday, June 1, 2008

e-Resource of the Month for June: Gale Legal Forms

We've all heard the phrase, "Get it in writing." Failure to have agreements in writing can lead to needless disputes and misunderstanding, as well as failure to provide a remedy. Many contracts must to be in writing to be legal and enforceable. Where to begin, especially if you have no legal training? This month's e-Resource, Gale Legal Forms, provides FCPL library card holders a wide selection of state-specific (and multi-state) legal forms across the most popular legal areas, including real estate contracts, wills, pre-marital agreements, bankruptcy and divorce documents, landlord tenant agreements and many others.

Where do these forms come from, you ask? The forms are drafted by attorneys for a particular legal matter, forms from public records and participating companies and attorneys. "Official" forms for many states are also included.

The Gale Legal Forms database also includes a comprehensive Attorney Directory and a dictionary of legal definitions explained in layman's language. The Attorney Directory is a unique listing of attorneys who have agreed to offer their services at some of the most competitive rates available today. The Attorney Directory is a good place to quickly get in touch with attorneys who can help you.
While the Gale Legal Forms database does not negate the need for an attorney, it's a great place to start when you need to draft business or litigation forms. And best of all, it's free!

NOTE: See my previous post on Gale Legal Forms' documents that assist victims of identity theft. You'll also want to check out the library's complete collection of legal resources.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Baseball History

The Library of Congress (LOC) has assembled a collection of historical baseball resources, including over 2,000 baseball cards dating from 1887-1914 featuring such players as Cy Young, Connie Mack and Ty Cobb; educational resources for teachers and students; primary sources/materials such as the original sheet music for "Take Me Out to the Ball Game" and a timeline of key dates in baseball history.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Book Values

Patrons often ask reference staff if the library could help them determine the value of old books (especially old family bibles, etc.). Unfortunately, the FCPL does not have the staff or expertise to provide book appraisals. Instead, we recommend that you check the following sources for information.

Directories

Look under the following headings in telephone directories (online and paper versions) for rare book dealers and appraisers in your area:

  • Books - Rare
  • Books - Used
  • Book Dealers - Used and Rare

NOTE: FCPL subscribes to Reference USA, a database of 14 million U.S. businesses. You can limit your search by the yellow page headings and SIC codes that apply to rare book dealers and appraisers. The database is available in all three branches of FCPL.

You can also search the Antiquarian Booksellers' Association of America National Directory.

Online Guides

Resources @ the Library

Web Sites

Search these websites of used, out-of-print and rare book dealers to locate the book(s) you own or want, compare conditions and prices, and locate possible buyers and sellers.

Saturday, May 3, 2008

Free and Easy Computer Tutorials

In Pictures is a Web site that offers online tutorials on popular software and programming tools, including Microsoft Office applications Word, Excel, PowerPoint and Publisher. If you are a visual learner (pictures make more sense than words, need to "see it in action,"), then these are for you. They are very clear, walk you through step-by-step and perfect for beginners. The tutorials focus more on common tasks (set up a simple spreadsheet with simple calculations, for example) than all the gee-whiz features of an application. There are no animations to cause you to lose focus and instead use simple black and white screen shots.

Not comfortable using the mouse? Check out Palm Beach County Library's Mousing Around tutorial.

Other online tutorials for the beginners can be found in the Learning and Technology section of the AARP's Web site. Specifically, the Computers & Technology subcategory includes how-to guides for using a mouse, understanding the Windows desktop, effective searching and more.

For more advanced users, check out CBT Cafe: Computer Based Training Software Video Tutorials, which offers offer free web-based software video training and software video tutorials for multimedia and graphic design in HTML, QuickTime Video, and Flash video tutorial formats.

Thursday, May 1, 2008

eResource of the Month for May: Washington Post Archives

Interested in an older article from the Washington Post, but don't want to deal with microfilm or pay for articles older than 14 days on the Washington Post's Web site? Aside from our microfilm holdings, the library also provides free access to electronic archives of the Washington Post via ProQuest Historical Washington Post (covers 1877 - 1991) as well as America's Newspapers from Newsbank (covers 1977 - current). You may also want to check out the ProQuest Historical Washington Post Extra edition, which allows you to bring up the headlines on the date of your choosing (i.e., on your birth date) and is specifically aimed at students.

Remember, to access the electronic version of the Washington Post as well as other newspapers and magazines articles and databases, all you need is your Fauquier County Public Library card.

Thursday, April 3, 2008

April is National Poetry Month

In honor of National Poetry Month (April), check out the following free resources available at your library and online.

Resources from the Library
If you're looking for resources at the library, check out our resources under the subject headings poetry and poets or simply browse through the 800s (Literature), particularly the section 808.1. For children, there are hundreds of titles that will help introduce the younger set to the joys of poetry.

A quick search on poetry will bring up thousands of titles for adults, teens and children, as well as book talks and recommended reading.

Contemporary Literary Criticism via Find It Virginia
Search the subject guide for poetry for critical essays on contemporary poets and authors.

Find literary criticism resources, primary sources, biographies and reviews on specific poets, poems and/or types of poetry.

Log in with your library card and under Subject Reference, click on Literature. There you'll find The Oxford Companion to Twentieth-Century Poetry in English, "the most comprehensive guide to modern poetry in English. Celebrated poets offer intriguing views on their fellow poets, such as Tom Paulin on Ted Hughes, Seamus Heaney on Robert Lowell, and Anne Stevenson on Sylvia Plath. 1,500 poets are covered from W.H. Auden to Benjamin Zephaniah. There is worldwide coverage, including America, Britain and Ireland, New Zealand, Trinidad and Zimbabwe. There are also entries on magazines, movements, and critical terms."

Resources on the Web
The host of this site, the Academy of American Poets, administers a wide variety of programs, including National Poetry Month (April), the largest literary celebration in the world; online educational resources providing free poetry lesson plans for high school teachers; and the Poetry Audio Archive, a collection of over 700 recordings dating back to the 1960s. The Poets.org website provides a wealth of content on contemporary American poetry. New, for 2008, the Academy is celebrating Poem in Your Pocket Day on April 17. To celebrate, simply select a poem you love during National Poetry Month then carry it with you to share with co-workers, family, and friends on April 17. Beginning in April, the site will also send one new poem to your inbox each day to celebrate National Poetry Month. The poems have been selected from new books published this spring. To sign up for this service, though, you need to register (it's free) with the site.

Publisher of Poetry magazine, the Poetry Foundation "works to raise poetry to a more visible and influential position in American culture." Use their Poetry Tool to look up poems by poet, category, occassion, title, first line or by glossary term. Listen to the poem of the day, peruse the reading guides and check out the poetry programs for children (recommended reads, activities and tips on introducing poetry to children).