Thursday, June 24, 2010

Free eBooks, eAudiobooks

While the library offers the NetLibrary service to patrons for free (just need your library card number to set up an account), reference staff often gets questions about where people can download free eBooks to view on their new iPad, Kindle, etc. (NetLibrary allows you to download eAudiobooks, but eBooks must be viewed online from your PC). To that end, we recently reviewed and posted a list of free eBook/eAudiobook websites on our Recommended Websites page. Details below...

Free eBooks
  • Project Gutenberg - The first provider of free electronic books, Project Gutenberg allows users to download over 32,000 ebooks to read on a variety of devices, including the iPad, Kindle, Sony eReader, iPhone and Android phones and more.
  • Google Books - According to Google, if the book in Google Books is out of copyright, or the publisher has given them permission, you'll be able to see a preview of the book, and in some cases the entire text. If it's in the public domain, you're free to download a PDF copy. If you set up/sign in with a Google account, you can create/manage your own personal bookshelf.
  • ManyBooks - This site has close to 30,000 eBooks available for free. They also appear to support a number of devices/eReaders.
  • MemoWare - Appears to encompass more esoteric (i.e., no bestsellers here) literature and reference titles, and you can browse by genre/category, format and rating. There is also a premium section/bookstore with titles for sale.
  • Online Books Page - If you don't want to use some of the specific ebook websites listed above, you can focus on this index of ebooks (across multiple sites) hosted by the University of Pennsylvania. You can't search by format, however.
  • Kobo - Free eBooks (open standard, EPUB format) for your PC, mobile, smart phone or eReader (they sell one - you can buy it at Borders Books & Music). A quick perusal of the titles shows a lot of Harlequin romance/romance is available, along with the classics.
Free eAudiobooks
  • AudioBooksForFree.com - I've seen this site recommended elsewhere, but it's a bit too commercial (lots of plugs to purchase other services) and there is no help section, so for now I am going to refrain from adding it to our page of recommended websites. I do like the little icons they display next to the title that clues you in on the contents (murder, etc.), whether it's abridged, male vs. female narrator, etc. There is a "play sample" feature, but I could not get it to work.
  • Project Gutenberg: The Audio Books Project - This growing collection includes human-read and computer-generated audio books.
Since we have a number of Kindle users, they may want to check out Amazon.com's Limited-time Promotional Offers or Kindle Popular Classics pages for free eBooks. Barnes & Noble, which sells the Nook eReader, also has free eBooks you can use with their free eReader software.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Internet Tips & Tricks - Register Today!

Time is running out and space is limited, so register today for our Internet Tips & Tricks class. Students will learn how to optimize the Internet Explorer web browser in order to effectively use the Internet, as well as learn specific shortcuts for common computer tasks. Students should be comfortable using the computer and the Internet, and are encouraged to come to the class with questions. View/print out the class handout for a preview of what will be covered.
  • Bealeton Library: 9 a.m. Tues., June 29 - call (540) 439-9728 to register or register online; class is limited to 7 students

  • Warrenton Library: 9 a.m. Tues., June 29 - call (540) 347-8750, ext. 6 to register or register online; class is limited to 9 students

Monday, June 21, 2010

Looking for a job?

If you're looking for a job, have you checked out the library's website lately? We have a large selection of online resources on our Career & Employment Resources page that can assist you with choosing a career, creating the perfect cover letter/resume and tips on interviewing.

Since most jobs now require you to fill out an online application, you'll appreciate the library's free public computer workstations - and free WiFi if you have your own laptop.

Most online job applications require you to include an e-mail address. To keep your job hunting e-mail separate from your personal e-mail, it's probably a good idea to set up a free e-mail account (Google, Yahoo, AOL and others offer free e-mail accounts) to use specifically for your job/career search. If you've never set one up before, take our free E-mail for Beginners class currently offered at the Bealeton Library or ask reference staff at your local library. If you already have an e-mail account you're using for job hunting, check out our tips discussed in our Advanced E-Mail class so you can set up a professional signature, organize your job-related e-mail and more.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Home Improvement Websites

There are many free manuals and instructional videos for Do It Yourself (DIY)-ers. Here's a list of sites that may help you with your next home improvement project.
  • This Old House - Fans of the PBS series will appreciate the practical how-to many videos and step-by-step directions for numerous household tasks, if not the ubiquitous ads for Home Depot and This Old House magazine (psst...you can check out copies from the library).

  • DIY Network - Access basics of numerous home improvement projects and post problems/access solutions in DIYN's online forum.

  • HGTV.com - Along with simple home improvement plans (probably more on the "fluff" side), get ideas for landscaping, decorating and organizing.

  • doityourself.com - Lots of videos (and also lots of commercial plugs) for the visual learner.

Less than stellar, but still useful...

  • Instructables - This site has user-submitted content. Most is free, but more and more of the instructables have a PRO icon, which means you'll be hit up for a subscription.

  • Lifehacker - Another site chock full of user-submitted tips and tricks. Not easily browseable like Instructables.

  • Acme How To - This is almost more of an online manual/guide (more reading vs. interactivity) to various repair topics - they explain how a particular appliance or system works and some info. on how to fix them. The site includes a section on diagnosing and repairing personal computers. Not all topics have been completed (some sections are "greyed out"), so is a work in progress.

Your Feedback Needed

Evaluation is an important tool when it comes to providing library service. Your confidential reply to a 4-question survey will help Fauquier County Public Library plan, improve, or change the services we provide. Please take a few moments and tell us how we’re doing.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Summer Reading Lists

Whether you're looking for a light beach read, something to log for your summer reading goal, or want to get a jump start on your school's summer reading assignment, the library's Web site has a variety of book lists for school-age children and adults. Highlights include:
  • Book Lists & Bibliographies - For adults, young adults and childrens, these lists are prepared by library staff and cover a varitey of topics/genres.

  • New to the Collection - Lists showing the latest items added to the library's collection. These are updated monthly.

  • This Week's Top Choices - The library subscribes to the Wowbrary service, which lists the latest titles, including reviews and the ability to quickly place a hold. To get a jump on popular titles, sign up for the weekly newsletter.

  • Summer Reading Lists - We've aggregated the summer reading assignments from local area schools (when the school makes available online).

  • Best Sellers - Updated weekly, click on the titles on the New York Times and Washington Post lists so you can place a hold.

  • Kiddosphere - This blog, maintained by FCPL Youth Services supervisor Jennifer Schultz, provides reviews of books, videos and CDs for children, tweens and young adults. You can subscribe by e-mail, making it easy to keep up with new titles.

  • On the Internet, you'll find a wealth of Web sites that provide suggested reading for children, including the BookHive, KidsReads.com, Reading Rockets and Reading is Fundamental (RIF), to name just a few.

The library also has a number of printed bibliographies and book lists for all ages, including best books for beginning readers, books for horse lovers and read-alikes. If you visit the library in-person, be sure to ask your friendly youth services librarian for recommended reads.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Search for Patents/Download Bulk Files via Google

The U.S. Patent & Trademark Office (USPTO) has entered into a no-cost, two-year agreement with Google to make bulk electronic patent and trademark public data available to the public in bulk form. Until now, USPTO’s public data in bulk form was only available on a file-by-file basis from the USPTO website, or for bulk download on CDs, DVDs, or digital tape, with fees to cover the USPTO's expenses (often more than $10,000 and potentially up to $250,000!). Many major law firms and research organizations rely on bulk file downloads so they can do more comprehensive analysis of the data. Now anyone can get the information for free by visiting http://www.google.com/googlebooks/uspto.html. For more details, see the Google Patent Search FAQs.

10 Resources for ESL & Foreign Language Students

Check out 10 Resources for ESL & Foreign Language Students from the Free Technology For Teachers website. There used to be very little content available on the Internet for ESL, but the amount and quality has improved greatly as of late.

English Language Learners should also consider attending the English as a Second Language (ESL) classes for adults that are presented at the library (locations/hours below) by Literacy Volunteers of Fauquier County. Call (540) 349-8142 for more information and to reserve space.

*John Marshall Library: 7-9 p.m. Tuesdays
*Warrenton Library: 7-9 p.m. Wednesdays

Meet Bobber, the Water Safety Dog

With beach season upon us, now is the time for parents and teachers to visit/revisit basic water safety rules and guidelines with entertaining cartoons and games on the U.S. Army Corps of Engineer's Bobber the Water Safety Dog website.

Tips include:
  • Never rely on toys such as inner tubes and water wings to stay afloat.
  • Don’t take chances, by over estimating your swimming skills.
  • Swim only in designated swimming areas.
  • Never swim alone.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

5 Sites Where You Can Prepare For The SAT Test

5 Sites Where You Can Prepare For The SAT Test

Check out MakeUseOf.com's overview of Math TV, Major Tests, Purple Math, VocabTest and Math.com.

And remember...you can access SAT/ACT prep for free with your library card. Peterson's Testing and Education Reference Center includes prep for undergraduate, graduate school and career tests.

Office 2010: Not Your Only Choice Roundup | PCMag.com

Office 2010: Not Your Only Choice Roundup PCMag.com

Contemplating and upgrade to Microsoft Office 2010? Check out this article in PC Magazine for insight to other free and lower-cost options to the Office suite.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

E-Resource of the Month: Byki® Online Language Learning Service

Fauquier County Public Library is pleased to announce the introduction of Byki® Online Library Edition, a powerful new online language-learning system designed specifically for use by the patrons of public libraries.

Byki, short for “Before You Know It,” is a rapid learning system employing spaced interval repetition. The Byki learning method takes users through a series of simple steps to memorize words and phrases in a new language, including their meanings and proper pronunciation, in the shortest possible time.

Available for learning over 70 languages, library patrons are able to access the Byki Online system from inside their local library via our public access computer workstations or your laptop + our wireless, or outside of the library/from home through the library's website. (Please note that you will be asked to create a username and password after you log in with your library card number. This allows you to track your progress.) Native speakers of Russian, Spanish, French, Arabic, Portuguese (Brazilian), Korean, Chinese and Japan can also access English language learning modules.

Users will have a variety of high quality learning options that build listening, reading, speaking, and writing skills. In addition, Byki includes Advanced Pronunciation Analysis to help users perfect their pronunciation skills. Individual progress tracking and assessment tests help identify areas for improvement and move users in the right direction.

In addition to Byki Online’s advanced learning tools, users will have access to an array of online language and cultural resources, including one click access to Facebook and Twitter language communities as well as Byki language Blogs featuring a collection of articles covering the language and the culture that surrounds it. Byki Online is designed to be very low maintenance and easy to use.

For more information, watch an online demo of Byki Online or ask the reference staff at your local library.