Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Tax Forms Online vs. the Library

While the library receives some federal tax forms and instructions to hand out to patrons for free (while supplies last), we don't receive every federal form/instruction booklet. Also, as usual, we will not get any Virginia state tax forms or instructions. Any form not available at the library will cost you $0.10 per page (printing from Web site) or $0.15 per page if you opt to copy from Package X (the master booklet for forms/instructions), which doesn't usually arrive at the library until February. Thus, if you have a computer and a printer at home, save yourself a trip to the library and print them out (for free) at home.


  • Federal - See - Click on Forms and Publications; includes a detailed summary of how to view and download tax forms from the IRS Web site, how to order online or via phone (1-800-829-3676).
  • Virginia - See - Click on Need a Form? under Services; download forms or have them mailed to you.

Tax Assistance
The IRS provides tax help for individuals. Just call 1-800-829-1040. You can also make an appointment with the Foundation for Tax Assistance. Please note that some restrictions may apply. Contact the Literacy Volunteers of Fauquier County directly at (540)349-8142 to make an appointment.

Changes for 2009 taxes
Products/forms no longer available
• Form 1040 Schedule A/B, Itemized Deductions/Interest and Ordinary Dividends: This schedule has been replaced by two separate forms, Form 1040 Schedule A and Form 1040 Schedule B (with instructions on the back of the form.)
• Form 1040 A Schedule 1, Interest and Ordinary Dividends for Form 1040A Filers: Replaced by Form 1040 Schedule B, Interest and Ordinary Dividends
• Form 1040 A Schedule 2, Child and Dependent Care Expenses for Form 1040A Filers: Replaced by Form 2441, Child and Dependent Care Expenses
• Form 1040 A Schedule 3, Credit for the Elderly or the Disabled for Form 1040A Filers: Replaced by Form 1040 Schedule R, Credit for the Elderly or the Disabled

New products
• Form 1040 Schedule A: Itemized Deductions
• Form 1040 Schedule B (instructions included on the form): Interest and Ordinary Dividends
• Form 1040 Schedule L (instructions included on the form): Standard Deductions for Certain Filers
• Form 1040 Schedule M: Making Work Pay and Government Retiree Credit
• Instructions 1040 ALL: Instructions for Form 1040 and Schedules A, B, C, D, E, F, J. and SE.

Friday, December 18, 2009

Resources for Job Seekers

We've recently added a page of career and employment resources (online and items available for checkout) for folks looking for a job or who want to explore a new career. You'll find our new Job Seekers page on our Web site under Areas of Interest.

Bloom's Literary Reference Online Updated

Essay due on one of the great authors or great works of literature? Bloom's Literary Reference Online, available 24X7 with your Fauquier County Public Library card, was recently updated with over 1,000 new entries for literary criticism (contemporary and classic) and more than 200 entries for the Bloom's How to Write About Literature series. Users will find valuable guidance on how to approach writing essays on some of the most commonly taught authors and works--from instructions on how to compose an effective essay and useful suggestions for paper topics to coverage of the authors' major works.

New entries include:
  • How to Write About Alice Walker
  • The Kite Runner (contemporary criticism)
  • On Gulliver's Travels by Jonathan Swift

Monday, December 14, 2009

Six Million More Seniors Using the Web than Five Years Ago | Nielsen Wire

Six Million More Seniors Using the Web than Five Years Ago Nielsen Wire

If you're a senior and want to get more "Web savvy," try one or all of our free weekly Internet classes held at the Bealeton, John Marshall and Warrenton libraries. The classes are held in a relaxed atmosphere and questions are welcome. Pass the word along to adults you know who may want to (or need to) freshen up their Internet skills. Seats are limited, so be sure to register today.

  • For Warrenton classes, call 347-8750, ext. 6
  • For Bealeton classes, call 439-9728 (classes begin January, 2010)
  • For John Marshall classes, call 364-4910 (classes begin January, 2010)

Friday, December 11, 2009

Science Nation

Science Nation is a free, weekly online magazine from the National Science Foundation that examines scientific breakthroughs and new discoveries about our planet. Each week, correspondent Miles O'Brien (of CNN fame) examines diverse topics including an artificial retina that can help the blind to see, "green" gasoline, the mysteries of tornadoes and, this week, a "fembot" that has helped researchers learn more about America's "extreme" bird, the male Sage Grouse. The reports are compelling, not intimidating, and parents/teachers may want to introduce their children/students to this resource as a way to spur creative ideas for their science fair projects.

Related resources at the library:

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Redesigned World Book Online

Fauquier County Public Library recently upgraded to World Book’s new Public Library Edition to provide library card holders “a comprehensive online reference tool with specific content and features designed for virtually every age and interest." The four modules available are:

World Book Online Reference Center
World Book Online Reference Center-Public Library Edition is a powerful reference tool for advanced researchers and information seekers. In addition to the entire World Book Encyclopedia, the site features hundreds of thousands of complete e-books and primary source documents along with features developed especially for public library patrons, such as Computer and Web Tutorials, How To... guidance, Government Resources, and Interactive Earth.

Key features include:

• Tailored to the needs of patrons of high school age and above
• Computer and Web Tutorials provide help for novices
• How To... documents offer information on skills for living, including applying for jobs, budgeting, transportation, and understanding health care issues
• Research tools, including dictionary, Citation Builder, and local and country research guides
• Interactive maps and atlas
• Individual accounts within the site offer users the ability to create and save content to their own research folders for later use

World Book Online Info Finder
World Book Online Info Finder contains content and features designed for school-aged patrons? homework and research needs. Based on the World Book Encyclopedia, the site features rich multimedia, a collection of age-appropriate science fair projects, a Biography Center, virtual tours, video showcases, links to current events and world newspapers, 21st-century research skills, and much more.

Key features include:

• More than 40,000 encyclopedia and reference articles
• Biography Center, with more than 10,000 biographies searchable by gender, field of endeavor, nationality, and time period
• Comprehensive multimedia collections, including World Book Explores video library and geography resource guides
• Thousands of high-quality Web links selected by World Book editors and expert contributors
• Powerful research tools, including a Citation Builder, How to Do Research guides, and personalized My Research accounts
• Convenient one-click dictionary
• Dynamic Interactive Earth feature, including the World Book Atlas, Interactive Maps, Outline Maps and Flags, and more
• Science projects and experiments, including a collection of last-minute projects
• Current magazines

World Book Online for Kids
This site offers easy-to-read articles and a wealth of engaging multimedia, games, science projects, interactive tools, and activities for younger children.

Key features include:

• Thousands of easy-to-read articles
• Engaging images and illustrations
• Interactive games and activities
• Interactive maps
• Outline maps and flags
• A biography center
• Science projects
• Teacher resources

World Book Enciclopedia Estudiantil Hallazgos
A Spanish-language encyclopedia and reference site for native Spanish speakers, bilingual and ESL/ELL students.

Key features include:

Diccionario Visual - The bilingual visual dictionary includes thousands of images and more than 12,000 labels
Activities - Activities can be printed, emailed, or saved. Click on Ensenelos teachers guides for English language educator's versions of the activities. Ensenelos teachers guides include national content standard correlations, materials, objectives, and assessment rubrics.
Encyclopedia Articles - Enciclopedia Estudiantil Hallazgos offers thousands of easy-to-read encyclopedia articles on a broad variety of topics. A browse feature helps visual learners and uncertain spellers navigate the site.
Periódicos del Mundo Hispánico - Features a collection of web links to online newspapers from Spanish speaking countries from around the world.
World of Animals - Quick facts, images, and videos.

Log in with your library card today and explore a world of learning from World Book.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

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:

December 2009 E-Resource: Contemporary Literary Criticism Select

Contemporary Literary Criticism Select is an award-winning collection of more than 35,000 critical essays on contemporary authors and includes biographical, critical, principal works, and further study information.

Literary researchers and students can use Contemporary Literary Criticism Select to:
  • Access biographical/critical introductions to major and new authors;
  • Find full-text criticism on major literary works;
  • Target sources for further research;
Entries provide extensive information, including:
  • Introduction to the Author — a discussion of the author’s life, works and critical importance;
  • Critical essays — essays and excerpts taken from books, magazines, literary reviews, newspapers and scholarly journals; interviews with featured authors where available; bibliographical citations
  • Suggestions for further reading — an annotated bibliography for further study;
Researchers can search the database by:
  • Author name
  • Biographical details, such as nationality, ethnicity, gender, year of birth or death
  • Title
  • Subject/Genre
  • Critic/Critical Source
  • Full-text Search allows you to search for a word or phrase in any Contemporary Literary Criticism Select entry
To access Contemporary Literary Criticism Select, visit the library's Web site at On the site's left-hand menu, under Find Information, select Search For Articles & More. CLC Select is listed under the heading, Literature & eBooks.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

You Watch, You Know

The library recently added WatchKnow to it's list of recommended Homework Help Web sites. WatchKnow, developed and launched by Dr. Larry Sanger, co-founder of Wikipedia, gathers and organizes educational videos for students ages 3 to 18. Currently featuring more than 11,000 videos across 2,000 categories on subjects such as math, science and history, this site provides students a YouTube experience that focuses on quality educational content. Video content comes from National Geographic, YouTube and Google Videos, among others, and has been endorsed by educators from Harvard, Stanford, Brigham Young and more. The search tool allows you to type in keywords and apply an age filter (3-18 or 17-18, for example), or you can browse by a specific category/subject.

Be sure to check out all of our recommended Homework Help resources online and at the library on our Youth Services page of our Web site.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Plan on buying a laptop?

Asus, Toshiba Have Lowest Failure Rates, Says Study

Laptops from Asus and Toshiba, followed by Sony and Apple, had the lowest failure rates of the nine manufacturers included in a report from Square Trade, a provider of electronics warranties. Hewlett-Packard, which is the world’s largest producer of PCs, came in last.

Posted using ShareThis

Monday, November 23, 2009

"Handcrafted" Gifts

Holiday gifts from the heart (versus a big box store) are more personal and probably less expensive than anything you could buy, and are probably more appreciated, as well. Consider labeling your creations as artisanal or handcrafted, as these are words that are often used in advertising to describe creations (food, beverage or otherwise) that are made by hand, usually in small batches. Sounds a bit more posh than homemade, don't you think?

One of my favorite Web sites for craft ideas is Aside from making great gifts, these crafts will give something for kids to do before the holidays arrive. Consider outsourcing the table centerpiece or napkin rings to the children in your family. Check out their Christmas 2009, Chanukah and Kwanzaa pages.

Other good sites for holiday/Winter craft projects include:
Resources at the library to help get you started on a "handcrafted" holiday:

Thursday, November 19, 2009

NASA Outsources Mars Exploration...

...just kidding (I think).

NASA and Microsoft recently launched a Web site where "Internet users can have fun while advancing their knowledge of Mars." The site, Be a Martian, allows you to participate as a citizen scientist and improve Martian maps, take part in research tasks (one task is counting craters) and assist Mars science teams studying data about the "Red Planet." One of the hoped-for outcomes is that the collaboration of thousands of "citizen scientists" would assist the real, NASA-employed scientists in producing better maps, for example. (Can I say that as a liberal arts major, with limited math/scientific skills, I might not be the citizen you want submitting data?) And of course, a Web site like this would inspire (hopefully current and future tax-payers) life-long learning and interest in the sciences, particularly space exploration.

To explore the Web site without actually signing up as a Martian, visit

P.S. Check out NASA's Mars Images and Videos and their All About Mars features

Store your resume, other documents online

Have you ever gone through the process of typing up a document (resume, etc.) here at the library and realize after the fact that you cannot save it to the library computer? If you don't happen to have a USB flash drive (or 3.5" floppy) with you, you'll be forced to either e-mail the contents of the document to yourself (and probably lose the formatting) or printing the document out and only having it as a hard copy.

If you don't want to deal with carrying a USB drive around with you, you may want to consider storing your documents online through a service like Google Documents, Zoho or ThinkFree (for a detailed comparison of these tools, see the July 16, 2008 article in ComputerWorld). These online office software tools allow you to create, manage, and collaborate on most types of office documents (traditional word processing, spreadsheets, presentations) — all on the Web. If you've created documents using Microsoft Office (available on all library public access computers), you can also upload those files (if you're using a library public computer, you'll need to save to a USB in order to upload) and make edits/store with few, if any changes to the formatting. Instead of installing software, these tools let you access and edit your files online. Bear in mind, however, that these free, online services do not include ALL the features/functionality that you'd find in the full Microsoft Office Suite (mail merge, for example), but for most folks using the library's public computers, these online office tools should be more than adequate.

Aside from being free and allowing you to access your files anytime, anywhere (as long as you have a Web connection), web-based applications provide a shared workspace, making it possible for you to allow other users access you files, edit and see changes in real-time. Of course, you're going to be dependent on the speed/reliability of your Internet connection and the vendor (Google, etc.) to keep these tools up and running -- things to think about if you are planning on chucking your Office software. However, for users (like our library patrons) who rely on using multiple or public computers to create/edit/access documents, these free tools are extremely useful.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Online Index to Ships in Books

If you're a historian, modelmaker, genealogist, fact-checker or anyone else who needs information about a particular ship/vessel, check out This free database includes over 100,000 entries, with the goal being over a million entries and eventually in non-English language resources. Along with entries on notables like the Titanic, you can use this database to find out about vessels that are mentioned in just one or two resources. The content indexed in the database includes books on whaling, warfare, fishing, immigration, trade, disasters, slavery, and much, much more. This database would be of particular interest to the professional or occasional genealogist trying to learn more about a specific vessel on which an individual traveled.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Use Clicker to Find Full-Length Video Content

Clicker is a new video directory service that, unlike Google or Bing, lists only full-length video content. The search (you can search by show, actor or topic) makes it easy to narrow in on what you're looking for, as it does NOT include related clips or mere snippets of videos, only the links to the full-length content. You can also browse shows by category (documentary, cooking, etc.) and by title. The site is constantly updated, meaning content is continually added and removed. The removal is key, as you know how frustrating it is to queue up a video and then get the message that the video is currently unavailable due to copyright restrictions, etc. If video to your favorite show is unavailable, Clicker will tell you that versus just not showing results. For example, I searched for videos of Curb Your Enthusiasm, and the page that returned gave a description of the show and information that the distributor has not made any episodes available online yet. They also give a link to the distributor/source, HBO. When you bring up the content you want to view, Clicker provides the link to the source site (NBC or Hulu, for example) or displays the content in an embedded video player. You should be aware that not all the content is free - some content is only available through Netflix or another subscriber service.

Get Cyber Smart

After receiving a notification that the Federal Trade Commission recently introduced an online booklet, Net Cetera: Chatting with Kids About Being Online (the library has ordered print copies which will be available at your local library), I thought I'd revisit, a joint Web site of the federal government and the tech industry that provides practical tips for avoiding Internet fraud, securing your computer and protecting your personal information.

The site's Topics section provides useful information on securing broadband service (what types of services are available, what to look for when contracting for services), what sort of scams are lurking out on the Internet, the ins and outs of online auctions, how to secure your computer and where to dispose of your PC once you are through with it.

Kids and adults alike will get a kick out of the interactive quizzes. Anyone considering doing business on eBay or a similar auction site should try their hand at AuctionAction first.

Whether you are new to the Web or have been online for years, be sure to check out -- you'll definitely learn new and useful information that will ensure safer "surfing" of the Internet.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

More eAudiobooks Each Month

Starting in November, the library's subscription to eAudiobooks via NetLibrary, specifically premium titles from Recorded Books and One-Click Audio, will increase by 30 titles each month, and at least 5 of those titles will be iPod-compatible.

Full-Text Magazines Online

Google Books has a number of magazines available for viewing online, which you'll find if you use the Advanced Book Search. Up until recently, there was no way to browse a list of all of the magazines by title. Thankfully, that's no longer the case. You can limit your browse to see only magazines that allow for full viewing (versus just previews/excerpts). Be aware, however, that the years available for viewing may be limited. What you'll need to do is click on the title you're interested in, then click on the Browse all issues link. You'll then get a listing of what issues are available, broken down by decade tabs. So if I want to browse all the online issues of Vegetarian Times, and scroll down to the Browse all issues section, I'll see that they have issues spanning the 80s, 90s and 2000s, the latest being May 2000.

Visited Common Craft Lately?

Back in April, I posted about these great introductory videos on technology created by Common Craft. Since then, they've expanded their technology offerings to include videos on Twitter, Wikis, Social Networking and more. They also have some non-tech videos on topics like personal finance. To see all the Common Craft videos, click on the Browse Videos link/menu button that is located on the top left of their home page, under their logo.

Friday, November 6, 2009

Visit Colonial Williamsburg's eMuseum

Colonial Williamsburg has a LOT of antiques. We're talking over 60,000 decorative objects, only half of which are viewable by the public. Now you can browse several thousand of them (with more being added on a regular basis) at the eMuseum. You can do a Quick Search by typing in a general term that describes the type of object you want to view (i.e., "silver,") or use the Advanced Search to help you quickly find objects by a particular artist or works made in particular year. Be sure to also peruse the highlights from selected exhibitions (the Painted Furniture exhibition is a great way to get ideas for "tweaking" your own homegoods).

Aside from the antiques, you can also tour the town from your computer.

For an unofficial view of Colonial Williamsburg (objects, architecture, etc.), check out these photos on Flickr.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Best MP3 players for audio books

If you use or are interested in using the library's free eAudiobook service through NetLibrary, you'll want to note that recently posted their reviews for "Best MP3 players for audio books."

Click here for most posts on the library's eaudiobook services.

Monday, November 2, 2009

World Book Student Edition features thousands of articles

World Book Student

Tailored for students in elementary and middle schools, World Book Student includes all the articles from the print versions of the World Book Encyclopedia, plus thousands of additional articles, learning resources, and research tools. Key features include: more than 40,000 encyclopedia and reference articles; World Book Biography Center, with more than 10,000 biographies; thousands of links selected by World Book editors and expert contributors; rich multimedia; historical features; extensive dictionary and atlas; correlations to state and provincial curriculum and achievement standards; audios, videos, and animations; educator tools; and student activities.

To access this e-resource, visit your local library or log in from your home computer via the link on the library's Web site -- Find Information > Search for Articles & More > Encyclopedias and Reference> World Book Student.

Friday, October 30, 2009

Virtual College Fairs

It's college fair season, and if you're looking to save money on travel costs, students and parents may want to consider trying a virtual college fair.

CollegeWeek Live - Free, online events designed to connect prospective students with colleges and universities in a live, interactive environment. Attendees can navigate through a virtual exhibit hall and visit virtual booths of over 200 colleges and universities where they can chat live with admissions officers and students. An auditorium offers live video presentations – and real time Q&A with leading experts on admissions and financial aid. CollegeWeekLive also offers scholarship resources, networking capabilities, prizes and special discounts from event sponsors and participating organizations. Registration is required, but it is free. - Students connect with colleges and Universities across the country via personal chat and online booths. See campus pictures, watch videos and read student blogs. Students can also provide their own feedback about their visits to college campuses by posting pictures and writing/posting reviews. Registration required (they'll ask you for your e-mail address), but if you have a Facebook account, you can simply use that login to enter the site by clicking any of the blue Facebook buttons.

While nothing can replace the face-to-face contact of a traditional in-person fair, virtual college fairs provide students, parents and colleges/universities the ability to connect with each other.

For more college resources (test prep, test dates, financial aid resources, etc.), please see the library's Web page For the College Bound.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

November is 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.

Recommended Web Sites
The Library of Congress (LOC) provides a number of wonderful online resources and source material on specific native 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/video 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.

For teachers, ReadWriteThink celebrates National American Indian Heritage Month with links to lesson plans, recommended Web sites and texts to inspire classroom learning. Also be sure to check out Smithsonian Education's American Indian Heritage Teaching Resources page.

Parents and teachers may want to try their hand at some Native American Crafts for Kids from

The National Park Service has put together a list of featured American Indian properties as well as lessons/exhibits of American Indian Heritage in our nation's parks.

PBS's American Experience series "We Shall Remain,", which describes itself as "a provocative multi-media project that establishes Native history as an essential part of American history," includes a Web site with all five (5) episodes available for viewing online. Other PBS sites with information on Native Americans include Colonial House, Antiques Roadshow and Lewis and Clark.

Suggested Databases
The library subscribes to several online databases that can help you with research on Native Americans:
  • Biography Resource Center alows you to browse for biographical information on the category Native Americans;

  • Both Britannica Online and World Book Online (kids' and regular/student versions) iclude in-depth research articles on Native Americans;

  • Search or browse Infotrac Religion & Philosophy on "Native American Religion" and "Native Americans" to learn more about indigenous people's beliefs;

  • In Bloom's Literary Reference Online, you can search on the terms "native american" and get a host of resources, including Bloom on Native-American Writers, bacckground on Native American literature and short fiction, and more;

  • Ancestry Library (in-library use only) has nineteen (19) databases available that cover specific Native American tribes as well as U.S. Indian Census Schedules;

And of course, you can always check the library's online catalog for books and materials to check out/take home.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Halloween Goodies Online

Halloween is just around the corner. Here are some spooktacular online resources for busy families:
  • Check out easy Halloween crafts, homemade costume ideas and pumpkin carving tips from;

  • The History Channel presents the history of Halloween and Jack O' Lanterns, info. on celebrations around the world, historic haunts and superstitions. You can even investigate paranormal activity with their Hidden Spirits game;

  • Log on to World Book Student and access articles on Halloween, holidays and other related topics;

  • Throw a Halloween bash with recipes from the Food Network;

  • If you're entertaining little ones (monster toes, anyone?), try the treats featured on Disney Family Food;

Offline resources include the library's Halloween programs for children as well as the "Ghosts of Fauquier County" program for adults.

Friday, October 9, 2009

Tuneful Tots

Classics for Kids® helps children (and grown-ups, too!) learn about classicial music in a fun, non-intimidating atmosphere. Children can:
  • Listen to classical music online

  • Get the scoop on composers - search by name, country, musical period or use the timeline

  • Play classical music games, including one that lets you compose your own music and share with friends

  • Access a music dictionary, learn about the instruments of an orchestra, even explore careers in music
For educators, the Classics for Kids® lesson plans and teaching resources give teachers practical, effective plans and activities that use classical music to help children learn and meet national and state standards.

For additional classical music resources for children, check out the library's Classical Kids collection.

Italian-American Heritage Month

October is Italian-American Heritage Month and is a time to recognize the many achievements, contributions, and successes of Americans of Italian descent, as well as Italians in America. Here are some online resources that will help you get in touch with your inner Italian...


Friday, October 2, 2009

Business & Human Rights Resource Centre

Whether you are a socially-conscious investor or a job seeker, you may want to look at more than a company's balance sheet to decide whether to invest or take a job. Now you can find human rights abuses information (worker exploitation, etc.) on over 4000 businesses worldwide using the Business & Human Rights Resource Centre web site. Users can search by company name, issue (discrimination, environment, etc.), country or topic (regions/countries, laws and lawsuits, etc.). If you don't have a particular company or issue in mind, you can always browse the online library.

The site is updated hourly with news and reports about companies’ human rights impacts worldwide – positive and negative, and links links to a wide range of materials published by: NGOs; companies & business organisations; UN, ILO & other intergovernmental organisations; governments & courts; policy experts & academics; social investment analysts; and journalists.

Companies that wish to submit clarifications/responses to items in the database are welcome to do so, and the site posts a disclaimer, "Business & Human Rights Resource Centre and its collaborative partners take no position on the diverse views presented in linked material by the various commentators, organizations & companies. As with any library, we cannot guarantee the factual accuracy of all the articles & reports we make."

Thursday, October 1, 2009

October e-Resource: eLibrary®

eLibrary® provides students and researchers access to more than 2,500 full-text magazines, newspapers, books, and transcripts--plus thousands of maps, pictures, educator-approved websites from Homework Central®, and top-quality multimedia (audio/video) files.

The easy-to-use search allows users to sort their results by relevance, date, Lexile or reading level, publication, and source. Parents, homeschoolers and educators can find content that's directly linked to state and national teaching standards.

The one-of-a-kind “Book Cart” feature allows teachers and parents to create reading lists, subject and topic pages, standards-linked lessons and activities, community interest pages, and even pre- or post-assessments.

Teachers and parents will also appreciate the Educator’s Tools section, which includes “teachable moments,” lesson plans, posters, flyers and videos. However, it appears that the content for this area has not been updated since April 2009, so be aware that it's probably more appropriate for finding information/lessons by topic (you can browse by topic) versus lessons tackling current events. Otherwise, you CAN get the latest teachable moments newsletter (which I'm told will eventually be loaded onto the eLibrary subscription site) from the ProQuest K-12 Web site. I would suggest that teachers should sign up for their newsletters anyway, just so you're aware of the newest content and features.

To access this all-in-one e-resource, visit your local library or log in from your home computer via the link on the library's Web site ( Find Information > Search for Articles & More > Magazines and Newspapers > eLibrary (via Find It Virginia).

Monday, September 28, 2009

Trademark Search

If you're a company/small business that is looking to file a trademark, are a brand logo designer or researching trademarks in general, check out the newly launched Trademarkia Web site/search engine. Trademarkia allows you to search (by company, theme, product category or filing attorney) all U.S. trademarks filed since 1870, including dead trademarks. The site even allows you to register for a trademark (for $159). Searching is free.

Brand managers will find the logo theme search/browse especially interesting. Say I want to create a logo for my Web site. Let's say I want a panda. I can click into the Animals section of Logo Themes, click on Panda bears, and voila, see the 595 other logos out there currently using the cute and cuddly Panda as their logo.

A bit less user-friendly is the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office's TESS system (Trademark Electronic Search System) and the USPTO Design Search Code Manual. Finding Panda logos in this government tool is definitely less straightforward than the Trademarkia version.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Top 100 Web Sites of 2009

Wondering what Web sites are/were hot in 2009? Check out PC Magazine's list, which not only includes the usual suspects -- Facebook, Flickr, Twitter and Google Docs -- but some others you may not have heard of. If you're looking for laughs, I suggest you try some of the following sites:
  • Item Not As Described - With the tagline, "FREE is a Four Letter Word," you'll find a plethora of ads posted on Craigslist for truly unsellable items (old underwear; a random, single shoe; a swing set that appears to only include the base/cement; a burned out RV, etc.). Vote for the worst ads.

  • Awkward Family Photos - The photo entitled "Soulmates" has to be one of my favorites.

  • AlternativeTo - Find free/cheap alternatives to pricey software.

  • Apology Center - If you can't bring yourself to apologizing in person or confess to a clergy member, post your apology anonymously.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Microsoft Office 2007 "Cheat Sheets"

Let's face it. Microsoft Office 2007 can be a little confusing/overwhelming to people used to Microsoft 2003, especially the "ribbon" interface. Below are links to some helpful cheat sheets from that are sure to make your life easier. Note that you'll need to have the free Adobe Reader loaded on your computer in order to view these documents.
  • Microsoft Office 2007 - Explains the "ribbon," smart shapes, formatting, adding a digital signature, document protection and more.
  • Excel 2007 - Includes a section on forumulas and functions, workbook management and charts.
  • Word 2007 - Copy/paste text, formatting, mail merge and tables are covered.
  • PowerPoint 2007 - Slide show delivery, transitions, animations and viewing options are discussed.
  • Publisher 2007 - Quickly create professional looking flyers, brochures and more with this powerful publishing program.
Other versions of Microsoft Office, as well as Internet Explorer 7 and a Computer Basics tip sheet are also available for free at the Web site.

If you're using the library's public access computers, which come equipped with Office 2007 as well as Internet Explorer 7, be sure to refer to this site. There are also hard copies available at the Reference Desk.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Ferguson's Career Guidance Center Update

Job hunting? Looking to switch careers? The library's subscription to Ferguson's Career Guidance Center has you covered.

New Features This Month...
  • Users can now access the most viewed, emailed, and saved records in the database. Anyone interested in job market/career trends will appreciate the insight they'll gain into what jobs and career topics are being researched;
  • New/updated job profiles covering the casino industry, including Blackjack Dealer, Casino Hotel Executive Chef and Director of Casino Marketing;
  • New/updated job profiles in the retail and wholesale industry, including Buyer, Mall Manager and Sales Associate;

Be sure to check out my earlier post on the library's additional resources on careers, or ask library staff for more details.

Craigslist 101 is a popular online community/website for local social networking. It includes local community classifieds and forums - a place to find jobs, housing, goods and services, social activities, romance, advice, community information, and just about anything else in a relatively non-commercial environment.

If you're new to Craigslist, there are a number of websites that provide information about using the site to sell products, promote businesses and services, generate leads and find employees, lease/rent housing and more. The first site you should review, however, is Craigslist's own help pages, which provide the details you need on how to post an ad, repost, reply, etc. The FAQs are especially helpful. Also be sure to check out craigslist blog, written by Craigslist CEO Jim Buckmaster.

If you do a simple Google search on Craigslist, you'll see that there is lots of discussion out there. For newspaper and magazine articles on Craigslist, do a Power Search on the library's Articles & More page.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Holding Politicians Accountable

The Center for Responsive Politics' (CRP) Web site is a treasure trove of information on the influence of money on U.S. politics, a "a clearinghouse for data and analysis on multiple aspects of money in politics—the independent interest groups called 527s committees, federal lobbying, Washington’s “revolving door”, privately sponsored congressional travel and the personal finances of members of Congress, the president and other officials."

For example, a common refrain heard from politicians during an election year is their goal to do away with "pork" spending and earmarks. The CRP, along with Taxpayers for Common Sense, has put together a sortable chart detailing earmarks and campaign contributions for FY '08 and FY '09 that is enlightening to say the least. Virginia politicians don't appear to be too abusive, but check out the entry for David Loebsack (D-Iowa)!

The easy-to-use search tool allows you to look up information by the donor, person (politician or other person's name), zip code, organization, keyword or industry. The Most Popular Searches feature allows you to see what stories other users are digging into on the site (Hilary Clinton, natch). The Quick Links section provides you with direct access to the most frequently used tools on the site such as member profiles, political action committees (PACs) and various races.

Comprehensive Sports Calendar

The International Olympic Committee's International Sports Calendar, provided by the General Association of International Sports Federations (there is a version of the calendar on the GAISF's Web site, but it's harder to use), provides sports junkies all the key dates of international sporting events. Search by date, sport and/or country and get the scoop on your favorite sports. A nice feature of the IOC's version of the database is that the sport categories (volleyball, tennis, etc.) are clickable, and take you to additional information/history of the specific sport in the Olympics, as well as links to the latest news about the sport.

New Food Safety Consumer Web Site

Wondering what's lurking in that burger you're about to bite into? Is that batch of cookie dough safe to bake? The USDA and HHS recently unveiled, a site designed to help consumers and families get all the latest information on food safety and food recalls in one convenient place. Specific food safety resources are broken down by food type - Meat, Poultry, Fish; Eggs & Dairy Products; and Fruits & Vegetables. The site also includes a number of tips on keeping food safe and ways to avoid food poisoning, an "ask the experts" feature and options to get e-mail updates (and eventually text messages to your mobile phone) on the latest recalls and alerts.

Explore energy Kids

The Energy Information Administration (I confess I wasn't even aware such an administration existed) recently launched energy Kids, a slick new Web site for kids and educators. The site covers:
  • the basics of energy (sources, forms, physical units, etc.);
  • more in-depth discussion of the various sources of energy (geothermal, solar, wind, etc.);
  • an overview of how energy is used (and how to save it);
  • historical facts, including an energy timeline and biographical information on scientists associated with energy issues/breakthroughs;
  • games and activities that will help make learning about energy a bit more fun for kids and adults alike
Teachers can find energy-related lesson plans by grade-level, suggested field trips and other free resources to "energize" students, and parents/students will be happy to find a number of science fair experiments for all grade levels.

For additional children's resources on energy, check out the library's online catalog.