Check Out a Skill!

20150320_161253We’re getting ready for something interesting in April. Not everyone is technologically-savvy, so we’ve decided to offer a “Check Out a Skill” week at the library. From April 13 -24, we’re offering half-hour sessions with one of our skill experts.  Learn to use Pinterest or Twitter, open up an email account, or finally get on Facebook and learn how to use it!

We’re taking registrations now, so give us a call. No “skill” is too simple to learn, and it’s the perfect time to learn how to use that new device (or that old one). Where else could you get this for free?  No where! Only at your library.

Projects!

onlineresourcesWe often have children come to the library looking for very specific resources because they have a project. While we carry LOTS of great, new non-fiction in our juvenile section, we can’t carry everything, and that project about the Australian thorny devil lizard probably won’t garner a lot of hits when you search our library catalog. But what we don’t have in books, we make up for in online resources. This is WAY better than using Wikipedia.

onlineIf you drop by our online catalog, you can click on the “Online Resources” button (just like the one above….and I’ve linked it here so you can go directly to it while you read this blog post). At that point, select Homework Help, and you’ll be brought to a couple of great website links, such as Kids InfoBits.

kidsI LOVE this particular resource because it is so user friendly, and is aimed at kids from Kindergarten to Grade 5—exactly the ones who might not have a lot of research skills at this point. From there, you can choose your topic, search, and voila! Tons of great information! We’ve been suggesting this site to teachers who frequent the library, and the response so far has been wonderful.

While researching projects at the library is nothing new, being able to do it from home through the library catalog is a great idea not many people think about. This is second in our series called “FIND IT NOW : Online Resources at the Library.”

It’s Going to Cost me HOW MUCH?

onlineresourcesThis is the first in a series we’re calling “FIND IT NOW: Online Resources at the Library”. While many people use the library catalog to reserve books, renew what they have out, or just search the collection before they come in, we’ve noticed that more and more people need information we don’t carry….and they need it right now!

Of course, our first instinct is to do a Google search, but if it is for a school project, often teachers don’t want the students to use information they find online. What about periodicals and encyclopedias, though? We don’t carry many of these resources anymore in hard copy, but now, we have them available for our patrons through our library catalog.

onlineWhen you go to our catalog, you’ll see a link on the left called “online resources”. This is where you’ll begin your search. And today, we’re going to talk about a resource that will help you with your car. It’s called the Chilton Library.

chiltonWe’ve offered this at our library in the past, but it’s never been so easy to access, especially from home. Once you click on the link, you’ll be brought to the main page. From here, you can look up information on a specific vehicle make and model. But it goes further than that. What if you need information to do some repairs yourself? What if you have an idea about how much a new part will cost, but don’t want to be blindsided by labor costs. The Chilton link allows you to research all of those things, and more. You’ll be able to go into your automotive center and feel like you have some knowledge behind you. As with anything, however, please remember that this site is providing information only, and that any differences when you have your car repaired are up to your technician. (Sort of like trying to diagnose yourself from a health website….your doctor might come up with a completely different diagnosis). This is strictly a tool.

Most people don’t think about using the library to fix their cars, but that’s exactly the type of unique service that’s available now. Aren’t libraries great?

 

 

Did You Know?

screenIf you haven’t been using our new website, we think you should give it a try. It might look different from our old catalog, but it’s got lots of great new features. And one of the best is our ONLINE RESOURCES!

If you click on the tab on the left of the page that says, Online Resources, you’ll come to a new menu that allows you to explore the resources based on what you’re looking for. Try “Genealogy and History” if you’re looking for links to Ancestry.com library edition, the World History Collection, or Our Ontario. Or click on “Health and Wellness” if you would like an easy way to find information about a medical problem or health question, choosing Consumer Health Complete, a Multilingual Health Database, or even a Teen Health and Wellness link. It’s easy to search any of these databases, either from home or while you’re at the library. It’s a great resource that we’re proud to offer to our patrons.

One of the great “book” related links is called NoveList (or NoveList K-8 for the younger set). Click on that link and you’ll be brought to a fantastic search engine that will help you search for books by your favourite author, see what’s coming next in a series, and even get recommendations for authors who write in a similar style. No more wondering what to read next!

You can find all of these links at our online catalog. Take a few minutes to explore it. You might be surprised at what we have to offer!

Know the Code!

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We’re taking a fun course designed to help librarians keep up with technology called “23 Mobile Things“. There are 23 great ideas presented through this self-directed course, and we can take it at our own pace. It’s meant to showcase programs and apps that are currently useful in the library setting, such as Twitter, Instagram and Haiku Decks. We’ve been downloading, trying some of the new technology out, and grumbling over a few things we realize we’re not good at. But this week, they’ve stumped me.

If you have any experience in coding or HTML for websites, this is probably an easy course for you. Codecademy is a BRILLIANT site, which is now being used in school settings throughout North America more and more, to help people learn the art of coding. This is probably especially important for the younger generation coming up. They present the basics of many types of computer languages and how to use them, from baby steps on up.  And the fun thing about it is that it “rewards” you with badges at every step of the way.

I started the basic HTML course this week as part of the requirements for our course…..and found myself staring at the keyboard every time I had to type a simple command. All of the <:/!p> stuff just doesn’t sit in my head, or at least, not yet. I’m hoping that will change.  I’m in awe of programmers who can whip together a sheet of code that looks like someone just sat on a keyboard, and actually make beautiful, responsive websites. Good for them! For now, I’ll keep going in order to earn my basics badge, but I don’t expect anyone will be calling me any time soon to re-design their website!

If you’re interested in learning anything about computer languages (and they say you can design a gorgeous site by the end of the final courses), then you might want to give this site a try. It’s free, and you can work at your own pace, and trust me…there is LOTS of help! Give it a try. We’d love to hear what you think of it!

The 50,000 word Email

If you’ve ever had those days when your email inbox constantly dings, you’ll understand the resulting problem.  You now have to answer those emails. But some of them seem to go on for days, and you lose the will to live before getting to the end of the email. Shouldn’t there be email rules? Should we all know and follow those rules so that we can get more work done?

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I came across this great article with The 7 Guidelines for Writing Emails that People Actually Want to Read.  And they’re simple, simple rules. I’m going to try to DO more of these in my own correspondence. My favourite?  The Three-Sentence rule…..if you can’t write your email in three sentences, then maybe you need to pick up the phone, or really think about what you’re trying to say. Good advice (although tough).

Do you receive more email than you can manage in a day? Do you have your own ways of dealing with it?

 

 

(Photo credit : Alejandro Escamilla)

Paper cutting or Drawings?

I love looking at illustrations.  It is a big part of my job when it comes to selecting picture books for the library collection. Illustration plays a major role in this type of book and can often make or break a story.  And a trend we’ve been seeing more of in the last few years is paper-cut illustrations. The artist uses paper and cuts in intricate ways to make gorgeous pictures that seem to jump off the page. That’s what I thought when I saw the work of Eiko Ojala.

EikoOjala1

 

Ojala uses his computer to digitally render these illustrations….no paper involved at all! Of course, paper art is his inspiration, and you’ll love looking through the various examples on his website. While the digital world has dramatically moved forward in making realistic images (CGI, anyone?), does this take away from the “real” art of paper cutting?  I don’t think so. It has merit on its own, I strongly believe.

Take a few minutes to wander through the site. You won’t be disappointed!