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Wednesday, December 17, 2014

History Day

History Day can be described as engaging students in discovering of historical, cultural and social experiences of the past. It is anticipated that these "hidden gems" or nuggets that students discover about the past will invoke excitement through hands-on experience, later demonstrating their findings (research) through presentation. The theme for History Day 2015 is Leadership & Legacy in History. With this theme in mind, it is anticipated that students will view history not as mere facts and dates, but will examine the historical data in greater detail, allowing for historical content to develop a perspective and understanding. 

 Minnesota Historical Society (MHS) suggests that students select a topic from the below list:

Some of the topics include: American Indians, Crime & Punishment, Environment, Famous Minnesotans, politics, etc. 

The first place for students to begin work on their projects is at the library. I have reserved two days (December 11 & February 12) at the Rondo Library that staff from MHS and the University of Minnesota will meet with students to help assist with their topics. If more information is needed (depending on topics), students may be directed to MHS, George Latimer Central Library and/or the collections at the University of Minnesota libraries.

This activity has better prepared me to help assist students with History Day projects. I am now aware of what are good topics/subjects for students to begin with. I also have a better idea of where to look for informational resources and where to refer students for his or her research.

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Search Engines Beyond Google

No, I don't really have a favorite search engine and switch between Yahoo and Google. At home, I use Yahoo a lot, but that is just because I have my home page set to Yahoo! Mail. I have tried Bing and like the easy to use site; I like that before you type in a search, suggestions appear off to the right. There also is not a lot of clutter on the page to distract viewers...oh yeah, and the desktop picture that change frequently are very cool. I dislike all the stories about celebrities and famous people at the bottom of the screen and wondering is that what Bing searchers want or is that what Bing management thinks people want to read? 
If I have a task or job around the house that I am trying to accomplish, such as, repairing a leaky Moen faucet in the house, then I will use a natural language search engine like (formerly Ask Jeeves). I like that below the search results one can broaden your search by clicking below the heading: Explore Answers About. Off to the right side of the page are You Tube videos that may help assist with a visual explanation of something. 

In comparing Yahoo with when searching how to repair a leaky Moen faucet, I really did not see any major differences, but it was interesting that the first result was a link to a article. There might be one or two more clicks to go through before he or she finds what they are seeking, but it could perhaps be how the search is phrased with keyword terms.

Friday, December 12, 2014

Transparent Language

I signed up, selected Norwegian language and got started using the Transparent Language database. I found that Quick Start, Part 1 started out very easy, as I am a new learner and like to take things nice and slow. Language learning started with basic greetings and phrases, as I dove in, learning how to say hello, goodbye and other common short phrases. I liked that one can click on the turtle icon and the word or phrase is pronounced much slower than natural conversation. 

Learning a language with Transparent Language has pros & cons vs. traditional classroom setting and learning from a C/D. With Transparent Language learning, one can take your learning to any place you wish, just along that a connection to the Internet is present; if you are at the cabin and want to brush up your speaking skills, that is another story. It is also easier to review language parts, building on vocabulary/comprehension online then learning from a C/D: one does not have to wait and recall certain positions (time frames) on your C/D and/or DVD players which is time-consuming. 

We all hear that traditional class learning is disappearing or fading away with courses being added online. Personally, I have taken classes to learn Spanish in a group setting and find the process enlightening and rewarding; I feel that what I have learned as a cohort through personal stories from others in the group, helped me through association and recalling of terms. I therefore was able to associate faces in the class, remembering vocabulary that has stuck with me ever since, and one can't get that experience by opening a book or popping in a DVD. I would still recommend Transparent Language learning to library patrons because we all learn in different ways and some people are more visual then others.

Friday, December 5, 2014

Catalog Tips and Tricks

The library catalog is a powerful tool that allows one access to all the great resources in the library; I like to view it as the keys to the castle, in which all forms of media (print and non-print) are just keystrokes away. I use the Popular Searches quite a lot when searching for newly released DVDs that were just ordered. I also use many databases everyday and like the feature of the A-Z in which library users can click on a letter of the alphabet and find the name of the database rather then scroll through a long list :-D

Yes, the catalog is indeed perfect, but there are enhancements that could be made. Too bad the library catalog does not include an icon for items that are on order in each record instead of just indicating how many holds are on a particular item ( I noticed when one initiates a Title search for a particular new item, then an ON ORDER note is displayed. Having separate catalogs for the E-books may also be difficult for the user: he or she may come to the conclusion it they don't find it in the main catalog- it is just not available. But I realize that E-books come and go with popularity and it would be a chore for the cataloger/Webmaster to import/export all records involved.

Sunday, November 30, 2014

Points of View Reference Center

Points of View is an excellent resource for those who are looking to see the pros and cons from both sides of a controversial topic. For example, one can find out what are the benefits of hydraulic fracturing (fracking) or what dangers persist when attempting to extract energy far beneath the ground. This database would best serve the middle school through teenage audience, but it is fine for those who want quick results on a controversial topic or subject. The database would help the researcher frame or gather ideas for his or her paper, offering ideas or suggestions that would help aide for a compare and contrast type paper.

Ways to help market this database to a potential audience might be to make catchy signs and promote in the homework centers. One could also use the training lab, offering hands on instruction to those wanting to see a demonstration of the database.

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Novelist Plus

I looked at Mysteries & Thrillers under Recommended Reads and the books by authors David Baldacci, Brad Thor and Jeffery Deaver were intriguing. Under the Search for More heading (Tone), I selected and . Under the Listen-alikes heading on the right side of the webpage listed authors, such as, Michael Connelly, Barry Eisler, Christopher Reich, Robert Ludlum and many others. 

This reader's guidance tool can help library patrons find similar works, introducing new authors with corresponding plots and writing styles. Goodreads, Bookish, Anobii and BookLikes are some of my favorite free Websites to utilize, but Fiction Connection and Booklist (pay Websites) may offer further guidance to readers.

Tuesday, November 25, 2014


OneClickDigital is a great alternative for those that are on the go and don't have time to read. A subdivision of Recorded Books, this database reads the text out loud of many popular authors. Just make sure you have your volume turned on. I did a search for Dean Koontz and was surprised to only see (2) titles included in this database, but I was happy to see the latest from Stephen King- Revival: A Novel.

I would certainly change how one searches for titles in OneClickDigital and found the whole search retrieval system difficult to navigate. A catalog system similar to OverDrive or 3M Cloud that displays titles across the screen, dividing them into categories would be better for the searcher. Another improvement would be to display the time/duration of the book on the first search page, as listeners would want to know when the book will be finished. A rating system would also help searchers if the book is worth listening to. I would only use this service for long driving trips or perhaps sitting by the lake fishing.


FREE music downloads that is DRM it really true? Yes, I signed up and downloaded (5) songs from various musical artists to my flash drive and could not believe how easy it was. However, Freegal does seem somewhat limited and does not have music from all musical artists. For example, I did not find any listings for Minnesota native Prince, any for the rock group The who or any entries for the UK punk group The Clash. The advantages to Freegal is that music will be free to those that want it at anytime, just as long as they don't go over the (5) songs per week. Other pay music sites (iTunes & Rhapsody) may be more inclusive, but you will pay for it.

I have helped a few patrons with downloading songs. I found it better to use the browser Firefox, as one can see where the downloads are located, then drag the individual songs to the appropriate devices (mp3 players).

Monday, November 24, 2014


Zinio was easy to use and I like the feature that you may get an automatic email once a new magazine is available. I can't believe that the magazine pages on the screen look exactly like the paper magazine itself with all pictures and ads retained. I have had to assist a library customer by phone and can't believe how easy it was for her to download magazines and start reading. The advantages to Zinio vs. print is that one does not have to wait anymore for someone to finish reading a popular magazine: you can now download a and read a magazine in a matter of seconds. The portability of the e-reader at your fingertips allows one to take magazines anywhere which won't clutter up your carry-on bag in the airplane.

3M Cloud Library

I borrowed the Nook from the library and downloaded Escape from Camp 14, by Blaine Harden from 3M Cloud Library and found the whole process a lot easier simpler. I was using an older Nook and had to first connect the cable to computer to download rather than using a newer device with WiFi. I found the selection of the books easier to search with Cloud Library, but the only drawback was searching seemed slower. I also liked the reviews from users which aided me in selecting a title.


E-books are fun! I am somewhat of a beginner with this new way of viewing written content. It takes a little of getting used to how the pages are displayed, but once you get used to how the pages turn and set up user preferences, (light, font size and font style) reading will never be the same. I like how one can mark a page and come back to read it later.

The only confusion I see that customers may encounter is knowing what format to download for their particular device. For example, should one download Adobe EPUB or for the Kindle device? 

I recently traveled to London and and successfully downloaded an e-book to the Nook that I could read on the plane. The whole process took sometime, as I had to call the Help Desk to install the app on my desktop computer. Once the app was installed, I selected a book, downloaded it and began reading it. What was difficult was finding where the download went on the computer. Once I located the file on the hard drive, I transferred to the device (Kindle).

DiscoTech 2.0

Looking forward in learning new technology with DiscoTech 2.0!

Saturday, April 19, 2014

United States Virgin Islands (USVI)

The U.S. Virgin Islands consist of four islands, St. Thomas, St. Croix, St. John and Water Island [Water Island was purchased by the U.S. on June 19, 1944 for $10,000 to protect the submarine base on Saint Thomas during World War II]. The three islands (St. Thomas, St. Croix and St. John) are about 135 square miles and have a population of less than a quarter of a million people. The islands were purchased from Denmark on January 17, 1917 for $25 million in gold because the United States government feared Germany would attack the islands, establishing a  submarine base there during WWI.

If there was a steady breeze, cane was brought to the windmill. Revolving sails turned a central shaft, rotating the rollers and crushing the stalks. Juice ran down the rollers into the gutter, flowing downhill to the factory. The windmill was built around 1797.          
Magens Bay

Friday, March 14, 2014


           Windsor Castle

The Royal Guard

One of the largest and the most commercially successful cities in the world, London is also regarded as the financial heart of the United Kingdom. The city was established in 43 AD and is actually a combining of two ancient cities: the City of Westminster and the City of London. London, capital of United Kingdom, is an exhilarating fusion of unyielding tradition and free-spirited avant-garde. With spellbinding attractions like Buckingham Palace, Westminster Abbey, Tower Bridge and London Eye, visiting this city is a fun-filled adventure!

Fun & Interesting Facts About London

  •  London is the most densely populated area in Britain and is the ninth largest city in the world. 
  • During the time of the Roman Invasion, London was know as Londinium. In Saxon times, it was know as Lundenwic and during the kingdom of Alfred the Great, its name was changed to Lundenburg.
  • Contrary to what many people believe, Big Ben is not the name of the clock tower, but a 13-ton bell   inside the clock. The tower is known as St. Stephen's Tower.
  • The City of London is home to four World Heritage Sites: the Palace of Westminster, (Houses of Parliament), the Tower of London, Maritime Greenwich and Kew Botanical gardens. 
  • The Thames River is the longest river in England. Starting out as a trickle in a Gloucestershire meadow, flowing for more than 135 miles before reaching London.
  • The  London Eye or Millennium Wheel of the city is the tallest Ferris wheel in Europe.
  • Wilton's Music Hall is the world's oldest surviving musical hall and was built in 1743.
  • The London Underground or "Tube" was built in 1863 and is the oldest underground transit system. 
  • Canary Wharf Tower is the tallest building in London. 
  • London is one of three command centers for the world economy and is the sixth largest city economy after Tokyo, New York, Los Angeles, Chicago and Paris.
  • Buckingham Palace, the Queen's official residence built in 1702, was built on a infamous brothel.
  • The Great Fire of London in 1666 create widespread devastation, causing major reconstruction work across the city. 
  • London is a multi-ethnic city and domiciles people speaking over 300 languages.       
  • Windsor Castle of London is the largest and oldest castle in the world that is still in use.
Buckingham Palace
Tower of London

Tower Bridge is the name of a combined bascule and suspension bridge in London. It has been constructed over River Thames and is sited near the Tower of London, from which it got its name. Tower Bridge comprises of two towers, with two horizontal walkways tying it at the upper level. Completed in 1894, the bridge was believed to be one of the greatest engineering marvels of its age.

                          Westminster Abbey

Wellington Arch

Sunday, January 12, 2014


The University of Oxford located in the city of Oxford is the oldest surviving university in the English-speaking world and is regarded as one of the world's leading academic institutions. The University does not have a clear date of inception. Teaching at Oxford is believed to existed in some form in 1096. There are 38 colleges at the University of Oxford and 6 Permanent Private Halls, each with its own internal structure and activities. All resident students, and most academic staff, must be members both of a college or hall, and of the university. A few famous people who studied at Oxford include: Margaret Thatcher, Theodor Geisel (Dr. Seuss), C. S. Lewis, J. R. R. Tolkien and Bill Clinton.

Radcliffe Camera (Library)
A Pub & Meeting Place of C.S. Lewis and J.R.R. Tolkien

Thursday, January 9, 2014


Galway is a city in Ireland located in the West Region and the province of Connacht. The buildings are brightly colored and it is the most central port on the West Coast of Ireland. Galway's Irish name, Gaillimh, originates from the Irish word gaill, meaning 'outsiders' or 'foreigners'. The city started out as a tiny fishing village at the mouth of the River Corrib and grew into an important town when the Anglo- Normans, under Richard de Burgo, captured territory from the local O'Flahertys in 1232. Its fortified walls were built from around 1270. 14 merchant families or tribes controlled the city from political, commercial and social life. These powerful, mostly English or Norman families clashed frequently with the leading Irish families of Connemara.

Dunguaire Castle
Peat Harvesting
Beautiful Galway Bay

Monday, January 6, 2014


Coventry is a large city in the West Midlands region of England. In medieval times, the city thrived largely due to the textile and weaving trade. At the start of the Second World War, the city reestablished itself in the industry of metal-working, manufacturing automobiles, bicycles and airplane engines. Coventry was heavily bombed by the German Luftwaffe during World War II and much of the city was destroyed. Today Coventry is both an industrial center and a cathedral city.

Cathedral Ruins of St. Michael

Lady Godiva was an 11th century Anglo-Saxon noblewoman who, according to legend, rode naked through the streets of Coventry in an attempt to persuade her husband to lower the taxes that were crippling the poor citizens of Coventry.
Coventry Clock Tower 

The legend of peeping Tom is that of a tailor named Tom who dared to view the noblewoman Lady Godiva's ride. Lady Godiva had instructed the townsfolk to stay indoors during her ride, everyone did except Tom who not resist peeking at her, hence the term "Peeping Tom."