Just for Fun!

Because we deal with technology here everyday, we’ve heard young people come into the library, sit at one of our older computers, and say,

Wow! This computer has Windows XP!  Where are the apps?

Of course, this will happen with all of the new generation at some point (Windows 7?? Wow!), but this video made me laugh.  Remember Windows 95?  Yeah, so do we…..

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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?

 

 

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!

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.

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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!

I need a Computer!

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Our computers are always so busy. We have “regulars” who drop in almost every day to check email, use Facebook or play games. And then we have people who come by only when their home computers are acting up, or we might see people on vacation who need to catch up. We also have free Wi-Fi access for people who bring in their devices, or computers.  Whatever the reason, we’re happy to provide this service to our community.

We have three public computer stations that you can book for a 1/2 hour or an hour each day.  We also have two express computers that you can use for 15 minutes at a time. Each computer has a printer installed, so if you need to print something, it only costs 25 cents per page. Plus, we have Microsoft Word on all three of our regular computer stations to help out with those school projects or resumes. And if we don’t have it installed, feel free to download a program to use while you’re here.

If you know you’re going to need some time, please call us (613-257-2702) and book a computer. That way, you’ll be sure to get the time you need. However, you can always take a chance and drop in. There might be one available.

Need a computer?  Chances are, we’ve got one!

Escape!

Years ago, when I was in Grade ten, I took a computer studies program. On the very first day, the teacher told us under no circumstances should we press the “escape” key. From that moment on, I was petrified I’d touch it by mistake and wipe out everything I was working on, or worse, everything stored on my computer.  Maybe I just didn’t listen well enough. Maybe the warning came with some reason and not-so-dire results, but all I heard was the warning. Escape.  Leave it alone.

The original “escape” key was invented by IBM computer programmer Bob Berner in 1960. Back then, there were a variety of programming languages and programmers had trouble moving out of one and into another with ease…until the “escape” key was invented. Berner decided they needed a simple option, something to press to get them back to a fresh starting place again. He could have chosen any word, but liked the idea of being able to just drop everything with the touch of a button. These days, we don’t use the escape key in the same manner (although often people will try it when a screen/webpage suddenly freezes). Our new go-to escape button is the CTRL-ALT-DEL  magic combo that usually can get us out of all varieties of messes.  It might not be as simple, but then again, computers are much more complicated now, too.

I think we’d all like to have an escape button in our personal or professional lives. Wouldn’t it be great to have something that would just take us right out of an argument with someone, or pop us out of that stressful meeting at work with a single swipe? I think we’d all appreciate something like that. Unfortunately, life isn’t that simple.

Books, however, can act as an escape button quite easily. They can transport us to another time or another place, drop us into the lives of people we might not otherwise encounter or give us comfort when we’re going through difficult times.  Books can stay with us long after we close the pages and give us something to look forward to when we can finally get back to them. Books are the original escape keys. 

Pity the people in this world who don’t/won’t/can’t read. Can their escape methods be as vibrant or as meaningful or as joyous as ours?  I don’t know for sure, but I’d have to believe not. So, are you going to escape today?