Tag Archives: Amy’s picks

Resource of the Month: DigitalLearn.org

DigitalLearnKnow anyone who could benefit from technology coaching?  It could be you, your parent, your child, or a neighbor who needs help building digital literacy skills.  Your library offers books, eBooks, videos, computer classes, a monthly drop-in assistance lab, scheduled appointments with a Reference Librarian, and some stellar online resources which can be accessed from anywhere. Anytime.

Previously, we posted information about the Goodwill Community Foundation’s site (read it here), and patrons have given us excellent feedback.  Now the Public Library Association has put together DigitalLearn.org to support both learners AND trainers in pursuit of better skills. The homepage shares this invitation:

If you are new to computers, haven’t used them for a while, are a little unsure and uncomfortable, or just need a bit of a refresher, we have the tools to help you tackle technology at your own pace and gain the confidence you need to succeed.

There’s an array of courses available, in both English and Spanish, starting with “Why Use a Computer?”, including “Intro to Skype” and “Online Scams”, and ending with “Buying a Plane Ticket”.  Anyone is able to take a course (and print out a certificate at the conclusion if recordkeeping is an issue), and no login is required.  Courses are brief, averaging around 15 minutes, and dispense information in a rich format, including text, video, and audio.  Just click on the title of interest and you’ll be taken to a list of related activities.

If, instead, your need is learning how to help others develop digital skills, click on the “Help Learners” link at the top right of the homepage.  There you will find a listing of resources for handouts and course materials, learn from other trainers’ experiences, and find links for other potentially useful websites and tools such as webinars.

There’s no need to reinvent the wheel! You can benefit today from the fact that libraries know how to provide technology instruction!


Resource of the Month: Ancestry Library Edition

AncestryGive yourself a gift in honor of Genealogy Day (March 12, according to daysoftheyear.com) by paying a visit to the library!  In addition to the expected family history resources located on shelves, you’ll have access to Ancestry Library Edition at any of the public computers.

You might have seen ads for Ancestry.com or watched “Who Do You Think You Are” on TLC and thought about doing some research of your own.  That used to mean time-consuming — often expensive — trips to courthouses, Register of Deeds offices, churches, and archives, but now much of the legwork can be accomplished virtually, with an internet connection and access to digital collections.

According to its website:  “Ancestry Library Edition provides access to billions of historical documents, millions of historical photos, plus local narratives, oral histories, indexes and other resources in over 30,000 databases that span from the 1500s to the 2000s.”  And it’s free to onsite library visitors!  There are two dedicated Local History and Genealogy computers, but any of our public computers will provide access to the amazing and ever-expanding collection of Ancestry.com.  Library visitors can explore records and research guides at  www.AncestryLibrary.com.

The significant differences between a paid, individual subscription and the Library Edition have to do with personalization, so library visitors cannot upload documents or add to online family trees.  However, patrons are able to search most of the databases, save/email/print information, and take advantage of forms and tips and tutorials.

Staff at the Reference Desk are happy to assist you in getting started with this resource.  We also have genealogy volunteers available every Thursday to assist you with researching your family history.  Call 919-545-8086 for details and to schedule an appointment.

Resource of the Month: African American Heritage

African American HeritageIf the genealogy bug has caught you, Chatham County Public Libraries can help! In addition to offering access to Ancestry Library Edition in the library and to HeritageQuest from anywhere, the library offers access to African American Heritage in our branches and off site with a password.

This resource provides genealogical and historical records useful for exploring the lives of African American ancestors, a process complicated by the disruptions of slavery and the dearth of centrally-accessible records.  African American Heritage helps family history researchers by bringing together some of the scattered records and by offering expert guides through references and social networking possibilities.

Starting at the library’s home page, www.chathamlibraries.org, click on Online Resources, then the link for Genealogy, followed by the icon for African American Heritage.  Outside of the library, you’ll need a password which staff at the Reference Desk will be happy to share with you.

You’ll find census, Freedman’s Bank, and slave records; birth, marriage, death and North Carolina cohabitation records; church, military, court, and legal records; as well as genealogies and family histories.  In addition, you’ll have access to guides for locating resources in all fifty states, Canada, and the West Indies.

From the home page, you can search and browse the collections, search and browse how-to and reference books, and link to AfriGeneas (a partner site), where you can interact with a community of interested and experienced researchers. During your research sessions, it’s possible to track your search history and to save your discoveries to a notebook for later printing, emailing, and downloading.

Call 919-545-8086 for African American Heritage login information or to discuss this and other tools for genealogy research.  Happy searching!

Resource of the Month: NCpedia

Have you ever wondered just which frog/dog/tree/bird/reptile, exactly, is one of the official North Carolina symbols or been cornered to explain the term “Tar Heel”?  Newcomers to the state and natives alike will find that NCpedia is a direct line to easy-to-access information for research, travel, or fun.

This is an award-winning searchable and browseable collection of all things North Carolina from trustworthy sources.  Articles are drawn from an array of resources so you don’t have to go poking about, and you’ll find images and audio, a trivia quiz, and an ever-changing “This Day in North Carolina History” box.

A search for “Chatham County” brings up a map, census info, a brief history, and economic facts.  That page also links to the official county site, the Chamber of Commerce, and events and places such as the Silk Hope Old Fashioned Farmer’s Day and the Devil’s Tramping Ground near Siler City.

NCpedia can help you learn something new about where you live and make you the tour guide of your visitors’ dreams!

Resource of the Month: Audiobook recommendations

NoveListJust in time for summer roadtrips and yardwork with headphones, your library card entitles you to audiobook recommendations whenever and wherever you want.

Here’s how to find them:

Go to nclive.org. Under the heading “Browse”, click “Books & Literature”, then click the link for NoveList Plus. At that point you’ll be prompted to choose your library and enter your 14-digit library card number.

See a previous blog post about this readers’ advisory service and what you’ll discover there, or simply dive into audiobook heaven. Browse to your heart’s content or head for lists at the far right. There are “must-listens” for teens, children, and adults; award-winning audiobooks; and genre titles.

Click on a book icon or title to get the full record with an array of nice features… Note that you can set limits in your searches such as “read by author” and “witty” within Audio Characteristics. Titles shown have links for “listen-alikes” and “author read-alikes”, reviews from Goodreads and AudioFile, and some include audio samples.

When you identify books you want to listen to, be sure to check our library catalog for availability. Audiobooks are available from the library on CD and in digital format through One-Click Digital and the e-inc library. We can arrange to borrow audiobooks on CD from other libraries across the country through ILL.

Finally, you may also access free audiobooks through the following resources:

Happy listening!

Resource of the Month: GCF LearnFree

GCF LearnFreeLooking for opportunities to build your technology skill set — from home, at your own pace, for FREE?  The Goodwill Community Foundation has just the site for you to learn what you want, when it’s important to you!

Visit GCFLearnFree.org to find out how to purchase a computer or to navigate your new iPhone or iPad, or simply to improve typing and mouse skills.  You can also learn programs like Excel and PowerPoint and learn how to use email, Windows 8, and Google more effectively.  No password is required, and you don’t need to set up an account to access the tutorials and videos.  Check out their online classes which result in earning CEUs and a Certificate of Completion at www.gcflearnfree.org/classes.

You can  browse the complete list of available topics here or type in a topic of interest in the search bar at the top of any page.  A search for iPhone, for example, returns tutorials called iPhone Basics, iPhone 5s and 5c, Getting Started, and Syncing Your iPhone.

Note that the site is accessible in both English and Spanish and also offers an array of opportunities for learning basic math, reading, career, and daily life skills.  Let us know what you find useful there!

Resource of the Month: OneClickdigital (e-audiobooks)

oneclickdigitalDesperately seeking listening material for your commute or workout?  With your Chatham County Public Library card, you have access to more than 1,500 free downloadable audiobooks through OneClickdigital, yet another resource offered to North Carolina library patrons through NC LIVE (www.nclive.org).

These unabridged titles include fiction and nonfiction, classics and popular literature, and books for both adults and younger readers.  You’ll find history and language-learning resources, self-improvement, as well as sheer entertainment.

Files will work with most iPods and WMA-compatible MP3 players, or you can listen through your computer.  Depending upon restrictions set by publishers, some titles can be burned to CD after download.

The very best part?  There are no damaged discs, none to misplace, and no overdue fees!  Items check out for up to one week, can be renewed, and simply become inaccessible at the end of their checkout period.

To access this resource, start at the NC LIVE homepage.  Look for the “Browse” heading near the middle of the page, and select the “Audio” icon.  You will need to create an account the first time you visit, at the top right of the OneClickdigital homepage.  (Look for the “Create New Account” link.)

Help resources are available from the tab on the homepage.  Here you’ll find FAQs, links to tutorial videos, compatible devices, and helpdesk info.  All the programs you’ll need for downloading and managing your audiobooks are readily accessible here, and you’ll also find directions for specific devices.

Happy listening!

Resource of the Month: NoveList Plus

NoveListHave you read everything by your favorite author and want to discover similar writers?  Can’t remember the title of that amazing book you read a decade ago but want to recommend to someone else?  Want to be the star of your next bookgroup meeting?

NoveList Plus is an online resource free to library patrons and can give you answers to all of these questions and more.  It’s an easy-to-use database which offers:

  • Read-alikes for books and authors
  • Series information (description, book order)
  • Plot summaries
  • Fiction and non-fiction recommendations
  • Award-winning books
  • Theme-based booklists
  • Book discussion guides
  • Author information
  • Curriculum connections
  • Book reviews
  • Lexile levels for student recommendations
  • First chapter excerpts

This treasure trove for bibliophiles of all ages, teachers, and parents of reluctant readers is accessible through the library’s website, or through www.nclive.org.  (You will be prompted to log in with your library card number.)  NoveList Plus can guide you to your next book quickly, but be warned that you might find yourself falling down the rabbit’s hole, just like Alice in Wonderland! Contact the library by phone or chat if you need assistance, and be sure to let us know what you find in your NoveList adventures!

Resource of the Month: Consumer Reports

Consumer Reports provides readers with information to make safe and smart purchases – independent ratings and reviews of products and services, and identification of key product features.  Household crises frequently bring patrons to the library in search of the magazine, and it’s a pleasure to share that they can access it online, free of cost, from home or even while standing in the appliance section of Lowe’s!

Through NC LIVE, library patrons can access full-text articles from the Buying Guide from 1999 – present, from the magazine itself from 1991 – present, and from the Travel Letter from 1997 – 2002.  From the NC LIVE home page, click on the link at the far left of the page, just below “Search by Title”, where it says Click here to find a journal, magazine, or newspaper by title.  When prompted, you will need to select your library system (Chatham County Public Library) from the pull-down menu and enter your entire library card number, without spaces between the numbers.  At the next screen, type Consumer Reports in the search box, and click the radio button for “Journals Only.”  On the results page, simply click on the link for MasterFILE Complete below the title for the Consumer Reports publication of your choice.

You can browse through entire issues by clicking on the year of your choice at the far right of the page, then selecting the month.  When you find an article title of interest, click on the title for more information, or select PDF Full Text in order to see the article exactly as it appears in the magazine – complete with charts and photos.  You may download the article or choose from other options at the far right of the page in a column labeled “Tools”:  Print, Email, Add to a folder, and Save, among others.

You may also search within Consumer Reports to discover all articles on a subject.  Click “Search within this publication” at the far right of the page, just above the column of available years.  The search bar next to the EBSCOhost button will be formatted to restrict your search to Consumer Reports.  Your next move should be to add “and” followed by whatever your given subject of interest is.  For instance, in order to search all available issues of the magazine for information about printers, the search bar should look like this:  JN “Consumer Reports” and printers.

Once you’ve performed a search, note that you can set limits on the left side of the page – you can make changes so you only see results published between the years of your choice, and you may find it helpful to click on “Subject” to make your search more specific.

Our summer reading picks

In anticipation of summer vacations full of summer reading, the staff at Chatham Community Library offer up these great recommendations for your summer reading pleasure…

Amy: The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer.

Visit the Channel Islands during World War II and honor creativity in adversity! It’s the power of books and community told through letters.



Brendan: Lost Rights by David Howard

I’m currently reading Lost Rights: The Misadventures of a Stolen American Relic for Chatham Community Library’s July Book Club meeting. It’s the story of how North Carolina’s original copy of the Bill of Rights was stolen during the Civil War and recently rediscovered in an FBI sting operation, and its convoluted journey through many hands along the way. Come talk about it with us on July 3 at 6:45 pm at the Chatham Community Library!

Dana: A Conspiracy of Paper by David Liss

This well-researched historical thriller launches the Benjamin Weaver series, in which a boxer-turned-private investigator travels through the seedy underworld of eighteenth-century London in pursuit of thieves and debtors. Weaver (a Jew among Christians, adding yet another layer of interest to the story) becomes entangled in the world of finance and scandal leading up to the world’s first stock-market crash, brought about by speculation in the South Sea Company’s stock. If you want a rollicking good read without even realizing you’re also getting a bit of a history lesson (the beginnings of speculative trading, anyone?), you won’t be able to get enough of this series.

Megan: On Writing by Stephen King

Summer always puts me in creative-mode, and Stephen King’s classic memoir is full of both writing advice and hilarious life stories. A perfect lead-in to our summer edition of National Novel Writing Month this July!


Molly: Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte & Wide Sargasso Sea by Jean Rhys.

Jane Eyre was written in 1847 and is the story of orphaned unloved Jane, self-described as “poor, plain, and little.” The novel, told in the passionate first person voice of Jane herself, chronicles the narrator’s life from age 10 through adulthood. While the story contains elements of romance, I would argue that it is a book primarily about one person’s quest for self-determination. Jane is caught in a time and place (19th century England) in which her role in the world is pre-determined. She does not accept this fate, however. There is a mystery at the heart of the book, too, which I won’t spoil. After reading Jane Eyre, definitely try Jean Rhys’s, Wide Sargasso Sea. While the book is technically a prequel to Jane Eyre, it was written over a century after Bronte published her novel, in 1966. This book follows the story of Antoinette, a brilliant and troubled creole woman from the Bahamas. To say more would be to ruin the surprise of both books.

Jennifer’s picks: Find yourself taking a “stay-cation” this year? Three outstanding new books will transport you to different times and places–from the deep woods of Michigan to the Blue Ridge of Virginia and North Carolina–hold you tighter than a patch of brambles, and haunt you like ballads “way over yonder in the minor key,” as Woody Guthrie put it.

The protagonist of Bonnie Jo Campbell’s Once Upon a River, Margo, is a teen abandoned by her mother. She’s learned most of what she knows on the river and is as sure a shot as her idol, Annie Oakley. After a tragedy forces her from her home, she survives in the wild on a search for her mother. This is a young woman who makes choices, though they aren’t always good ones, and faces challenges with a calm assurance. In a nutshell, Campbell has created a female Homer who overcomes trial after trial to return home—to herself. Although no Pulitzer prize for fiction was awarded this year, this book was long rumored to be in the running.

Ron Rash and Robert Goolrick are masters of atmosphere, and their newest novels ring with moonshine and high lonesome mystery. Neither Heading Out to Wonderful nor The Cove reach the art achieved in A Reliable Wife or Serena, but both are beautifully written mountain tales that evoke the sights, sounds, and smells of the Virginia and North Carolina Blue Ridge and readers would be missing stories as memorable and compelling as fairy tales.

Open Goolrick’s Heading Out to Wonderful and you won’t be able to stop reading until the bitter end. In 1948, “Charlie Beale drove into town out of nowhere in an old beat-up pickup truck. On the seat beside him were two suitcases. One was thin cardboard. . .and in it were. . .a set of butcher knives, sharp as razors. . .The other one was made of tin and. . .it was filled with money. A lot of money.” Then the handsome, mysterious stranger not only meets the ethereally beautiful wife of the meanest man in Brownsburg, Virginia, but draws the four-year-old son of his new employer into a train-wreck of a tale that will remind you of Long Black Veil, Tom Dooley, and other traditional tragic songs.

In The Cove, the suspicious inhabitants of Mars Hill, North Carolina have labeled Laurel Shelton a witch, though they accept her brother Hank, who has returned home from World War I minus one arm. The gloomy, secluded cove where she and her brother have spent their lives is widely believed to be cursed. One day Laurel follows the sound of flute music emanating from a swath of rhododendron and discovers a mysterious stranger. Dressed in rags, he has a note pinned to his shirt explaining that his name is Walter, he is mute, and he needs to get to New York. Hank and Laurel want to keep Walter in the cove as long as possible; Hank in order to make improvements to the homestead so he can leave the cove for good, and Laurel because she sees in Walter her only hope for happiness. When Walter’s dangerous secret is unwittingly revealed to a vigilante, the story steams full-tilt to its dramatic ending. Readers will want to learn more about the true events that inspired this story.

If you are still looking for books to read, here are more recommendations:

NPR’ s 2012 Summer Books Series

Goodreads Popular Summer Reading Shelves

Nancy Pearl Unearths Great Summer Reads

Library Journal: Summertime and the Reading is Easy

Don’t forget: summer reading isn’t just for kids! Chatham Community Library is pleased to offer its first summer reading program for adults, Between the Covers. Click here to sign up.