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.