Monday, December 19, 2011

Tax Forms Online vs. the Library

It's that time of the year again -- patrons are already asking the library about the 2011 tax forms (which haven't arrived as of Dec. 19). Patrons can pick forms up at the library starting January 3. 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 $0.15 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.


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 540-422-8465 to make an appointment. Appointments will take place at all library locations per the schedule below:

  • John Marshall Library: 4-7 p.m., Mondays (Feb. 6 - April 12)
  • John Marshall Library: Noon - 3 p.m.. Tuesdays (Feb. 7 - April 10)
  • Warrenton Library: 10 a.m. - 1 p.m., Wednesdays (Feb. 8 - April 11)
  • Bealeton Library: 10 a.m. - 1 p.m., Thursdays (Feb. 9 - April 12)

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

The Encyclopedia of Science Fiction

The Encyclopedia of Science Fiction, which aims to "provide a comprehensive, scholarly and critical guide to science fiction it all its forms" launched an expanded online "beta" edition in October. You can browse entries covering awards, authors, characters, themes, etc., or use the search tool that's located at the top of each page.

Fauquier County Public Library's science fiction collection is located in adult fiction, with the call number prefix SF. New titles are added regularly.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

e-Reader Workshops - Sign Up Today!

Own an e-reader (or plan on purchasing one) and wondering how you can take advantage of the library's collection of e-books? The library is offering two workshops that will include a brief overview of e-books and e-readers and staff will demonstrate how to download e-books from the library website. After the presentation library staff members will assist Fauquier County Public Library card holders with setting up their laptops and/or e-reader devices.

Where: Warrenton Library Program Room
When: Saturday, Jan. 7 and Jan. 21
Time: 10:30 a.m. - noon

Registration is required. Please call (540) 422-8500, ext. 6862, to reserve your spot. Workshops are limited to 10 patrons, so sign up today!

UPDATE 12/21: This class is now full. We do have a waiting list in case of cancellations.

When you register, you will be asked to confirm the following:
  • You have a valid, permanent Fauquier County Public Library card
  • You have a valid e-mail address
  • The type of device/e-reader you own (Kindle, Kindle Fire, iPad, Nook, etc.)
  • Some devices/e-readers (Nook--including Nook Tablet, Kobo, Sony, etc.) require you to first download your e-books to a computer and transfer via USB; if you own such a device, you will also need to bring a charged laptop and the USB cord for the device; Kindle, tablet and mobile device users do NOT require a laptop
  • An Adobe ID is required for the free Adobe Digital Editions software - you can set up before or set one up at the workshop 
  • If you use an Apple device, you'll need your Apple ID/password
  • If you use a Kindle device, you'll need your Amazon username/password
Related post: Consumer Reports (December 2011) reviews e-readers, tablets

Thursday, December 1, 2011

e-Resource of the Month: Oxford English Dictionary (OED)

The Oxford English Dictionary (OED) is widely regarded as the accepted authority on the English language. It is an unsurpassed guide to the meaning, history, and pronunciation of 600,000 words—past and present—from across the English-speaking world. When you look up a word/term in the OED, not only do you get the definition and pronunciation guide, but links to specific quotations. You can also view your results as a timeline, for historical context.

Quarterly updates (March, June, September and December) revise existing entries and add new words. And each month the OED adds to the OED Online ‘Aspects of English’—a growing series of features offering routes into the dictionary—as well as topical takes on words (current and historical) via the OED homepage. Altogether it's a wonderful resource for students and teachers of English language—past, present, and worldwide—as well as English literature, history, law, and many other subjects.

To get the most out of the OED, view the slide version of the online tour and be sure to subscribe to the OxfordWords blog.

Friday, November 25, 2011

DIY Gifts

Note: This is an updated version of my post from 2009

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 artisan 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 (except for the annoying video ads) 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 2011, 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:
If you find you have a knack for creating, you may want to consider selling your wares on, an online "marketplace full of the best handmade and vintage goods."

Monday, November 14, 2011

Read-Alikes Tool - Literature Map

Literature Map allows you to input a name of a favorite author and then provides you with a "web" of authors you may like. Author names closest to the author's name you entered are probably your best bets.While the results may not always be spot-on, this is an interesting discovery tool and will surely expose you to authors you may never have considered.

You can also pick up read-alike lists from your local library - ask at the reference desk - or consult those our staff have put online via the Book Notes blog (see right side of blog, section labeled "Read-Alikes."

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Celebrate Geography Awareness Week (November 13-19)

According to AccessScience, geography is the "study of physical and human landscapes, the processes that affect them, how and why they change over time" and geographers "consider, to varying degrees, both natural and human influences on the landscape."

Geography Awareness Week, which was established 25 years ago, is an annual public awareness program, organized by National Geographic Education Programs (NGEP), which encourages citizens young and old to think and learn about the interconnectedness of our world. Celebrated during the third week of November, students, families, and community members are invited to focus on the importance of geography through events, lessons, games, and challenges.

Resources at the library
In the non-fiction section, the 900s cover geography and history, with geography and travel specifically located in the 910s. If you have a specific region or country in mind, check the catalog (try a keyword search) or ask library reference staff to assist you. Atlases, specifically world atlases, can be found in the 912s, in both the adult and juvenile (children's) areas of your local library. A subject search, nature -- effect of human beings, will bring up many choices for exploration.

If the personal aspect of travel (versus geographical facts or "travel guides") are more your thing, be sure to check out the worldly (and often witty) observations of writers such as Paul Theroux, William Least Heat-Moon and Tony Horwitz or an anthology like The Best American Travel Writing, edited by Bill Bryson.

Electronic resources (use your library card to access):
Resources on the web:

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Keep 'Em Busy

Are children part of your guest list at the holiday table? Here are some great craft sites to help you plan kid-friendly activities to keep little ones busy while the adults enjoy the meal...
Note that Kaboose has video ads throughout their site, which automatically start playing. Be sure to click on the volume icon and mute unless you want to go insane. Aside from that minor annoyance, they offer an abundance of crafts, coloring pages and decorations for kids to create. They also cover other winter holidays such as Kwanzaa and Chinese New Year.

If you'd rather consult craft directions in print, place a hold/pick up one of these titles from your local library.

    Tuesday, November 8, 2011

    CR reviews e-readers, tablets

    The December 2011 issue of Consumer Reports is now available at your local library. Just in time for your holiday shopping, this issue includes the latest e-book reader ratings and buying advice, as well as recommended tablet computers (there are other tablets besides the iPad!).Check in at the reference desk to access the latest ratings from the December 2011 Consumer Reports. Be sure to also ask about the library's e-book/e-audiobook services.

    Another source you may want to check out - 2011 Best eBook Reader Comparisons and Reviews - includes rankings by CNET, Consumer Reports, PC Magazine and PC World.

    Tuesday, November 1, 2011

    Celebrate American Indian Heritage Month

    American Indian 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.

    Suggested Databases

    The library subscribes to several online databases that can help you with research on Native Americans/American Indians:
    • Biography in Context alows you to browse for biographical information on the category Native Americans;
    • Both Britannica Online and World Book Online (kids' and regular/student versions) include in-depth research articles on Native Americans;
    • 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, background on Native American literature and short fiction, and more;
    • Ancestry Library (in-library use only) has a number of databases available that cover specific Native American tribes as well as U.S. Indian Census Schedules;
    • Go to America's Newspapers/Newsbank and select Indigenous Cultures - Native American Indians under the Special Reports section;

    Recommended Web Sites

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

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

    While many newspapers, including the Washington Post and the New York Times, have online editions of their newspapers available for free via the Internet, access often requires registration and the acceptance of targeted online advertising. In addition, in some cases the archives (articles older than say, two weeks) are only available for a fee. With your Fauquier County Public Library card, you can access more than 1000 regional and national newspapers, ad-free, including their archives, through America's Newspapers from Newsbank.

    Coverage includes:
    • Baltimore Sun — from 9/1990 - current
    • Culpeper Star-Exponent -  from 3/2007 - current
    • Fredericksburg Free Lance-Star - from 1/2004 - current
    • New York Times — from 1/2000 - current (includes the New York Times Book Review and the New York Times Magazine sections)
    • Philadelphia Inquirer — from 1981 - current
    • Richmond Times Dispatch — from 8/19/1985 - current
    • Washington Post — from 1977 - current
    • Washington Times — from 1990 - current
    • Winchester Star -  from 2/2001 - current
    The library's subscription also includes access to America's News Magazines, which covers U.S. and international news, business, lifestyle, entertainment, sports, and science and technology from familiar magazines such as TIME, U.S. News & World Report, People Weekly, Fortune, Popular Science and Sports Illustrated. In many cases, access includes articles from as far back as the early 1990s.
    Teachers/educators will appreciate the Special Reports section, which  focus on topics such as the 2012 presidential election, world politics, conflict and terrorism and natural disasters.

    Thursday, October 27, 2011

    Byki Online about to get even better!

    Many of our patrons have used Byki Online to help them learn a foreign language. Starting on November 19, Byki Online will become Transparent Language Online, which includes the entire collection of Byki material currently offered, as well as a whole suite of new features, including the new Essentials courses, a fully-guided learning experience that is sure to get your learning off on the right foot.

    Starting November 19, you will still log in to Byki the way you always have, but you will be offered the option to either continue using “Classic” Byki or start using the new/enhanced Transparent Language Online service. All of the items you have learned in Byki will transition over to the new system.

    Transparent Language Online is packed full of pronunciation, speech, grammar, writing, and vocabulary building lessons for over 80 languages. Featuring top-of-the-line coursework combined with extensive social media resources, Transparent Language Online is the most complete language-learning system available to library patrons.

    Don't have internet access at home or prefer not being "online?" Try our Transparent Language interactive language instruction series via USB flash drive. Simply plug the flash drive into your computer, download the Transparent Language software and you're ready to go. No data plan necessary!

    Tuesday, October 18, 2011

    Microsoft Academic

    Microsoft Academic Search (MAS) is a free academic search engine covering scientific disciplines (MAS dubs them "domains") including engineering, computer science and economics. The database provides full-text access to academic publications, authors, conferences and journals, with the goal of connecting millions of scholars, students, librarians, and other users. The service is in beta, but definitely worth a look by students and researchers.

    Wednesday, October 12, 2011

    World Book E-Book Collection

    Paper due tomorrow on Homer's The Iliad? Access hundreds of fiction and non-fiction "classic" e-books, including the works of Homer, with selections in nine (9) languages via the World Book Online Reference Center.

    Monday, October 3, 2011

    The library catalog - now on your smartphone

    Fauquier County Public Library is pleased to announce an alternative interface of the library's online catalog for patrons using advanced handheld devices such as the Apple iPhone™, BlackBerry® Storm™, Palm® Pre™, and Google's Android™ OS phones. If you're a smartphone user and visit the library's online catalog, you will be automatically redirected to the library's mobile catalog, optimized to help you quickly find the items you're looking for, check your account and access the library's hours of operation.

    Saturday, October 1, 2011

    e-Resource of the Month: eLibrary®

    eLibrary®—the user-friendly general reference tool—delivers one of the largest general reference collections of periodical and digital media content designed to support every range of user, including elementary students, college-prep and college-level researchers, and professional educators.

    eLibrary’s interface and features make research easy. Researchers will find the answers they need from more than 2,000 full-text magazines, newspapers, books, and transcripts, plus thousands of maps, pictures, weblinks, and audio/video files.

    Titles cover a wide range of subjects including business, education, general interest, health, language arts, sciences, social sciences, and many other curriculum-specific subject areas.

    Every magazine, journal, newspaper, book, and transcript is provided in 100 percent full-text—saving valuable search time and reducing the frustration of abstract-only results. Plus, the variety of multimedia content supplements and enhances text-only information.

    Access to this database requires a Fauquier County Public Library card number. If you do not have a library card, apply for one online and gain instant access to this database.

    Like all the library's premium online resources/databases, you can find this at, under Find Information... Search for Articles and More. eLibrary is listed under Magazines, Journals & Newspapers.

    Friday, September 30, 2011

    Get your fiction fix with the library's e-book collection

    Looking for the latest Stephanie Plum series for your e-reader? The Fauquier County Public Library has you covered. Even if the library is closed, you can access the library's e-book and e-audio book collection any time. Fiction lovers will find a large selection of downloadable e-audio books and e-books through the Blue Ridge Download Consortium powered by OverDrive. And, as of Sept. 21, the library's e-book collection through OverDrive is compatible with the Amazon Kindle. Watch a how-to video to see how easy it is to get e-books for your Kindle.

    What you'll need to access e-books and e-audiobooks through Fauquier County Public Library's OverDrive collection:

    1. A valid, permanent library card (temporary cards are not accepted)
    2. Access to the Internet 
    3. For e-audio books - OverDrive Media Console, free software for the computer and/or device on which you wish to download to
    4. For e-books - Adobe Digital Editions account and software; Kindle users do NOT need this software, will access the e-books through their Amazon/Kindle account
    If you have questions about the library's e-book/e-audio book collection, reference staff would be happy to assist you.

      Thursday, September 29, 2011

      Explore health and medical science careers

      The National Institutes of Health, Office of Science Education's LifeWorks® is an interactive career exploration web site where users can browse for information on more than 100 medical science and health careers by title, education required, interest area, or median salary. Alternatively, the "Career Finder" can be used to generate a customized list of careers especially suited for users' skills and interests. LifeWorks® promotes awareness of the wide variety of occupations in health and medical sciences and the range of opportunities at different education levels. The site complements its factual career data by highlighting true stories of successful people in the field. They illustrate the variety of real-life career pathways, from the carefully planned to the unpredictable. 

      While the site is designed for middle and high school students, and those helping them make decisions about their future, it would also be useful for individuals who are considering a career change and looking at the health care field.

      Schoolhouse Rock

      Get all your favorite Schoolhouse Rock videos in one place on the Schoolhouse Rock YouTube channel. For the lyrics, check out the Schoolhouse Rock Lyrics site.

      Tuesday, September 6, 2011

      Free children's e-books

      Access beautifully-illustrated children's e-books by author/illustrator Hans Wilhelm in English and many other languages via You can view the books online or download as PDF files to your computer. Teachers and homeschoolers - for tips on how to integrate Children's Books Forever in your classroom or home learning environment, see Kelly Tenkely's post on

      Thursday, September 1, 2011

      Hispanic Heritage Month

      Hispanic Heritage Month runs September 15 through October 15. Here are some online resources you can use at home, in the classroom or to help you with your homework.

      e-Resource of the Month: World Book Online Reference Center

      World Book Online Reference Center

      World Book Online Reference Center is a powerful reference tool for advanced researchers and information seekers. The site features tens of thousands of articles and hundreds of thousands of primary source documents and features developed especially for public library patrons. Key features of the World Book Online Reference Center include:

        1. Search all encyclopedia, multimedia, periodical, e-book, and primary source databases in a single search, or use our image search to focus on the site’s rich multimedia.
        2. Research tools, including dictionary, My Research, and powerful search and browse interfaces to locate e-books and primary sources, help users compile the data and information they need to complete their assignments and background research.
        3. Customize your home page with the two newsfeeds of your choice
        4. Browse images from newly added articles. Click on the images for direct access to the latest World Book content.
        5. Computer and Web Tutorials make technology accessible even to the most basic users.
        6. How To… documents contain a wealth of practical information and real world examples to build skills for living.
        7. Customized Government Resources display web links to local and federal government institutions.
        8. Explore Interactive Earth to access World Book content integrated into Interactive Maps, the World Book Atlas, and comprehensive resource guides on continents, countries, states, and provinces.
        9. Timelines gives users the option to view pre-made timelines or create their own.
        10. Build citations in MLA, APA, and Harvard citation format with Citation Builder.
        11. How to Do Research provides tutorials and exercises for students and educators on 21st century information literacy skills.

        Access to this database requires a Fauquier County Public Library card number. If you do not have a library card, apply for one online and gain instant access to this database.

        Like all the library's premium online resources/databases, you can find this at, under Find Information... Search for Articles and More.

        Friday, August 19, 2011

        Back to School - Study Jams

        Along with the notebooks, calculator, pencils, pens, laptop, iPad, etc., remember to bookmark Scholastic's Study Jams website. Aimed at elementary school students, the site uses catchy jingles and video to provide step by step explanations for various math and science topics. Each "Jam" incodes a video/slide show, vocabulary terms and a "test yourself" application to practice what you've learned.

        Thursday, August 4, 2011

        Gov to Go

        Mobile Apps from provides you with all the mobile applications produced by the federal government. Apps include a body mass index (BMI) calculator, an embassy finder, a Food-a-Pedia to help you count your calories and an app that allows you to view the FBI's Most Wanted.

        Wednesday, August 3, 2011

        A Cache of Cartoons

        Step back in time and watch your favorite episodes of Looney Tunes, the Flintstones, Fat Albert, the Simpsons and many, many more on the Big Cartoon Database.

        Boasting over 120,000 cartoons as well as information on over 7,000 series, the database allows you to search by title, character, voice, studio, director, animator and more.

        Monday, August 1, 2011

        August 2011 e-Resource: Ancestry® Library Edition

        Thanks to television shows such as Who Do You Think You Are? and History Detectives, genealogy has become a  popular pastime for many individuals and families. Patrons interested in unlocking their own family secrets should head to any of Fauquier County Public Library branches, which offer access to Ancestry® Library Edition. Ancestry® Library Edition includes more than 7,000 available databases containing sources like censuses, vital records, immigration records, family histories, military records, court and legal documents, directories, photos, maps and more. Popular collections include:
        • U.S. collections - hundreds of millions of names from sources such as federal and U.S. censuses; birth, death, and marriage records including the Social Security Death Index; and U.S. border crossing and trans-ocean ship records.
        • Canadian collections - nearly 60 million records from the Census of Canada; and key vital records, such as the Drouin Collection (1621-1967), which includes nearly 30 million baptism, marriage, and burial records from Quebec.
        • U.K. collections - censuses for England, Wales, Isle of Man, Channel Islands, and Scotland, with nearly 200 million records; Births and Baptisms (1834-1906), Marriage Licenses (1521-1869), Deaths and Burials (1834-1934), and Poor Law Records (1840-1938) in London; and more.
        • Military collections - over 150 million records containing information often not found elsewhere; and includes records from the colonial to the Vietnam era.
        • Multimedia collections - millions of files ranging from family and gravestone photos to postcards and newsreels.
        • Other international collections continue to grow with more than 46 million records from German census, vital records, emigration indexes, ship lists, phone directories, and more; Chinese surnames in the large and growing Jiapu Collection of Chinese lineage books; Jewish family history records from Eastern Europe and Russia; and more.
        All this, plus an intuitive search interface, detailed search indexes, and helpful tools make Ancestry® Library Edition an indispensable resource for genealogists and family historians.

        Access is available in-library only (no remote access) -- just ask at the reference desk.

        Friday, July 29, 2011

        Show Me What's Wrong

        Show Me Whats Wrong - Passing along this handy, free tool that will help you in your role as tech support for your family, friends and co-workers. Just another great tip from Free Technology for Teachers.

        Thursday, July 21, 2011

        Today in Civil War History: First Battle of Bull Run

        Image courtesy of
        Today marks the 150th anniversary of what has been called the first major land battle of the American Civil War, the First Battle of Bull Run (also known as the Manassas Campaign/First Manassas). To call attention to the battlefield and provide visitors integrated maps, historical information and video, the Civil War Trust has recently added the Bull Run app (for iPhone) to their Battle Apps collection. For more on this week during the Civil War and the First Battle of Bull Run (Manassas), check out

        For information on the Civil War in Fauquier County, including upcoming events and tours, see

        Couch Potato Time

        If you're a fan of Charlie Chaplin, Our Gang, Abbot & Costello and the Three Stooges, check out the Comedy Films on the Internet Archive's Moving Images Archive of Feature Films. Other genres include Noir and Horror. You can sort films by date, date added to the collection, average rating and download count (popularity?). The camp value of classics such as Ed Wood's Plan 9 from Outer Space make this online resource worth a look.

        Aside from feature films/movies, the Internet Archive's Image Archive includes cartoon classics (the Film Chest Vintage Cartoons collection, for example, provides access shorts of Felix the Cat, Woody Woodpecker and Betty Boop); documentaries and educational films; and classic TV commercials (remember Shasta?).

        Tuesday, July 5, 2011

        Free eBooks from offers readers almost 30,000 free ebooks (they have been licensed for free distribution or are in the public domain) that can be downloaded in a variety of formats (epub, PDF, rocket book, etc.). You can browse by author, title or genre, as well as peruse the recent additions to the collection. This site is easy to use and is great for loading your ereader or tablet with classics like Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice, etc. Enjoy!

        Friday, July 1, 2011

        e-Resource of the Month: TumbleBook Library

        TumbleBooks are animated, talking picture books that have been created from existing picture books from well-known publishers and authors and converted to the TumbleBook format. Also included in the TumbleBook Library are:
        • Read-Alongs - combine adjustable text and color with complete narration and sentence by sentence highlighting
        • Non-Fiction Books - science, math, history, animals and geography come alive
        • Language Learning - a collection of children's books, mostly in French, and Spanish
        • Puzzles & Games -  a set of puzzles and games to play after reading a TumbleBook
        To access the full version of Tumblebooks, go to the library's youth services web page and see the TumbleBooks link. You can also access the TumbleBook library from any of the library's public computers. After logging into the computer and opening up the web browser, click on Games for Children for access to TumbleBooks and other age-appropriate games and activities popular with children.

        * NOTE: TumbleBooks are created in Flash animation and require the Flash plug-in to view and hear the animation. The great majority of computers and operating systems are already preloaded with Flash, however, if you are unable to view the books you can download the Flash plug-in for free from Adobe.

        Wednesday, June 8, 2011

        Caribbean-American Heritage Month

        This year marks the sixth anniversary of June as National Caribbean American Heritage Month.  The proclamation marks the official recognition that since the 16th Century, the destinies of the peoples of the Caribbean and the American continent have been inextricably linked. According to the Institute of Caribbean Studies, "Caribbean immigrants have been contributing to the well-being of American society since its founding. Alexander Hamilton, the First Secretary of the Treasury was from the Caribbean island of St. Kitts. We count among our famous sons and daughters, Secretary of State Colin Powell, Cicely Tyson, WEB Dubois, James Weldon Johnson, Harry Belafonte and Sidney Poitier to name a few."

        How to celebrate?

        Monday, June 6, 2011

        National Jukebox of Historic Sound Recordings

        The National Jukebox is a new website of over 10,000 rare historic sound recordings available to the public in digital form for the first time. Developed by the Library of Congress (LOC), with assets provided by Sony Music Entertainment, the National Jukebox offers free online access to a vast selection of music, including early jazz, blues and "novelty" songs, recordings made for distinct ethnic groups (i.e., Irish songs), as well as spoken-word recordings produced in the U.S. between the years 1901 and 1925.

        You can search by artist or genres or just browse all recordings. Jukebox Day by Day let's you hear what was recorded on any given day of the year (i.e., your birthday, anniversary, today's date, etc.). There are also playlists compiled by LOC curators and guest experts. For example, a collection of songs by Irving Berlin. The LOC even allows the public to contribute playlists, so if you're an early/historic music aficionado, you may want to submit your favorites.

        Friday, June 3, 2011

        Take a European vacation

        Can't get away to Europe this summer? Check out the Toporopa: Geography of Europe website. There are a number of addictive games/quizzes that will help you learn the countries, capitals and monarchies of Europe. This would be a great resource to study before embarking on a trip overseas or for any student of European history.

        For more online educational resources covering geography, history and social studies, along with other subjects, see our Educator Resources section of our website.

        Wednesday, June 1, 2011

        June 2011 e-Resource: Gale Legal Forms

        For the month of June, let's focus our attention on the library's subscription to Gale Legal Forms. Gale Legal Forms provides library patrons access to thousands of legal forms available, including Official, State Specific, Federal, Business, Personal, Real Estate and General forms, covering hundreds of legal subjects and issues. Some of the most popular forms downloaded include those related to bankruptcy, divorce, name change, power of attorney and wills.

        Forms available on Gale Legal Forms include forms drafted by attorneys for a particular legal matter, forms from public records and participating companies and attorneys. "Official" forms for many states, including Virginia are also included.

        Basic Legal Forms
        Some of the "basic" forms provided on this site cover the following categories: (1) Real Estate, (2) Leases, (3) Corporations, (4) Employment, (5) Wills, (6) Sale of Property, (7) Loans & Financing and (8) Other Business Forms.

        While "basic" or "standard" forms can generally be used with minor modification and are sometimes referred to as "fill in the blank." many of these types of forms differ from state to state, so choosing the correct standard form is important. And although many of the forms may be considered basic, you are advised to consult an attorney in your State to review any form you prepare.

        Complex Legal Forms
        There are also many forms available that are "complex" and should be used only as a guide and are better suited for attorneys than individuals. Most of these forms are litigation type forms or complex contracts. These forms require major modifications to fit a particular case based upon the facts of that case. Attorneys commonly use these forms as guides when drafting pleadings and contracts for their clients.

        If you prefer print materials, the library system also has a number of books containing sample legal forms available for checkout. Also, be sure to check out all the library's legal e-resources, including helpful links to various laws, codes and regulations on our Legal Resources page.

        Wednesday, May 25, 2011

        Begin your family research at the library

        Need help getting started finding your ancestors? The Warrenton Library's Virginiana Room houses a number of state and local resources, and reference staff is available to assist you in person, on the phone or by e-mail. The library also hosts occasional classes and genealogy one-on-one sessions, so be sure to check our program offerings.

        Here are some tips to get you started with your family tree:
        • Start with yourself and work backwards in time; list your parents, grandparents, great grandparents, aunts and uncles, etc.
        • Consult censuses and vital records. The United States Census records are made available after a 72-year privacy period. Many of these records and more can be found using online resources such as Ancestry Library Edition (library database available at all locations); HeritageQuest (available in the library and from home using your library card) and (website). For more online resources and recommended websites, see our Local History & Genealogy page.
        • Always try to find original records such as marriage certificates, wills, deeds, military records and passenger lists to verify the facts you find. When you do find something, make a copy and note the source; you may need to return to that source later, or you may share your research with other family members.
        • As not everything is on the Internet, you will probably need to look at records on microfilm or paper. Court records are particularly useful. Contact public libraries, genealogical societies or county courthouses in areas where your ancestors lived -- they may have unique tools such as obituary and newspaper indexes, local histories, maps and manuscript collections and clipping files. Virginia and Fauquier County-specific resources are housed in the Warrenton Library's Virginiana Room. Reference staff at the library may also be able to obtain some of these materials for you through interlibrary loan
        • Learn about the times and places your ancestors were living. Historical newspapers can be found on microfilm and in some cases, online. Local libraries and historical societies often index these papers. For example, the library has the Fauquier Democrat/Times-Democrat on microfilm from 1907-present, and staff and volunteers maintain an online index of life events (birth, marriage, death, etc.). The library also subscribes to ProQuest's Historical Washington Post: 1877-1993.
        Best of luck on your family research!

        Friday, May 20, 2011

        Learn computer basics, job skills

        Last Friday, U.S. Department of Commerce Secretary Gary Locke announced the department's new website,, that provides libraries, community colleges, schools and workforce training centers a variety of resources and tools for teaching computer and Internet skills, including:

        Learn the Basics - Access tutorials on using Google Documents, MS Office, text messaging, setting up virus protection and more.

        Learn Job Skills - Get help finding a career, build a resume and connect with career resource centers in your region.

        If you have a relative or friend who needs help with his/her computer skills, or your job requires you to teach people how to use technology, these online tutorials can help make the job easier.

        Thursday, May 19, 2011

        Databases vs. websites

        What is the difference between a database and a website?
        Websites can be created by anyone and can contain anything, regardless of accuracy. Databases, on the other hand, are an online subscription (sometimes referred to as "premium") version of reference books, magazine articles, journal articles, data, audiobooks and videos that you won't find with a search engine like Google or Bing. The library subscribes to these databases either individually or through Find It Virginia. You can access these databases in the library (ask reference staff for assistance) or through our website with your library card number (10 digit number on the back of your card).

        This is not to say there aren't a lot of informative, educational websites out there. Library reference staff has put together a list of recommended websites organized by subject/category, so be sure to bookmark/refer to these as well as you do your research.

        Wednesday, May 11, 2011

        Watch documentaries online for free

        SnagFilms provides free online access to documentary films from established filmmakers as well as first-time documentary producers. Films are streamed, meaning there is no software installation or downloading required. All you need is a decent broadband connection. You can browse documentaries by topic, by channel (although I find the channel names somewhat vague), or check What's Hot or the A-Z list. There's also a search, if you know the name of the film you're looking for.

        SnagFilms also has a division, SnagLearning, which contains educational videos for teaching and learning. The educational videos and documentaries are organized by grade level and classroom subject. There are also channels that include content from National Geographic and PBS. Helpful "learning questions," and in some cases, lesson plans, are included along with the films/video content.

        So how 'bout taking a break from junk food t.v. and watch something a bit more nourishing for the mind and soul?