Category Archives: Hot Topics
By Lisa Lombard, Reference Department Total Boox is an app that provides another way to read digital books while you are on the go or at home sitting in your favorite reading spot. The app is available for Android, Amazon Kindle and iPad users. Some great features of this app include; no waiting lines, you can read books offline (you only need to be online to download books), there is no return date, and once the book is on your device, it stays on your device until you decide to delete it. So you can keep books on your device for as long as you have the app and read them as many times as you want without having to re-download. Another perk of this app is that if you get a new device all of your books will be automatically downloaded onto that device so you do not have to search for them again. I’m going to take you through the app from start to finish and I hope that you will consider adding this as a way to read more books in the future!
If you need visual help to learn how to use the app you have two options. One option is a user guide located at the bottom of every page under the heading “readers” and shows you how to best use each section (pictures are provided as part of the guide). The other option is a YouTube tutorial.
An important detail is making sure you get the app that is for libraries so you have FREE access to books. Once you have downloaded the app and open it you will be prompted to login. To login make sure you have Williamson County Public Library selected then enter your library card number and pin, the next screen will ask for your email address.
Once you have completed those steps you will be taken to the “home” screen which in this case is the “My Library” page. From here you have two options: you can either click on “Get Books It’s Free!” or the “+” to create a new shelf. By tapping on the “Get Books It’s Free!” iconic book you will be taken to a page that has several options. These options include sections titled “editors’ picks,” “featured authors,” and “just arrived” sections and have several books to browse through by scrolling right to left. By tapping on a book cover you will be given the synopsis of the book along with the option to read it or download the book, by selecting to read, it will automatically open and if you select download the book will be placed on your “My Library” page.
The other ways to find books include the search area (great for if you know the title or author), browsing through the categories tab or browsing through the shelves tab. If you want to search by category you are in luck there is a wide variety of categories to choose from, 28 total. Of those 28 categories, 18 have sub-categories. This is a great way to browse for something if you have a specific idea in mind or you know you want a historical fiction book. The shelves tab is an awesome option for getting a lot of books from specific categories onto your “My Library” page quickly. For example, there is a shelf titled “Great books to take on your next flight.” In this shelf there are a total of 15 books (for right now), a brief description of the type of books in the section, who shared the shelf and when it was last updated. By clicking on the download button all 15 of these books will be available to you with the shelf title on your “My Library” page. None these books are automatically downloaded to your device you still have to click on “read” to have them available to read without the internet.
Once you have a book open there is a pop up tool bar (tap in the empty area on the bottom of the page) with 5 options at the top: Home, Table of Contents (for the current book), Font size, Browse Bookmarks (for browsing where you have placed bookmarks for the opened book before), and Add a Bookmark. Also to be found when you tap in that empty space is a drag bar that allows you to jump further ahead or behind in the book which is much easier than going page by page.
Back on the “My Library” page you can create your own shelves by moving around the books you have downloaded or selecting “copy” from a book that’s on another shelf and moving it to the desired shelf. You also have the option to delete your books when you desire, all you have to do is tap on the book cover and select the delete option.
While you might not find the most popular books and authors in this app I think it’s worth the time to get to know and it search around, because you will find classics, books in your favorite genre you wouldn’t of normally read and who knows what other good books you might run across. I already have a shelf downloaded and two books ready to read!
By Cindy Schuchardt, Reference Department
The Internet can be both bane and blessing if you are researching information. While the World Wide Web allows almost immediate access to information around the globe, it also provides the perfect setting for those seeking to dupe a consumer, perpetuate a rumor, create a scare, or push an agenda. It is therefore crucial to evaluate online resources before believing them or using the information they contain.
Evaluating information starts with asking yourself some questions. One way to do that is to turn to the 5 W’s – who, what, where, when and why.
- Who is responsible for the information on the site? Is the site owner clearly identified with contact information provided?
- What does the domain extension for the site tell you about the information owner? A non-profit organization is typically indicated by .org, an educational institution by .edu, a commercial site by .com, a small business by .biz, and a government site by .gov.
- What do you know about the site’s owner or publisher? Is he or she a recognized expert with credentials provided? Does the site represent a particular, subjective viewpoint, or can it be considered a reliable, objective information source?
- What is the purpose of the site?
- What type of information are you finding? Does it seem credible? Is it professionally presented and without obvious typos or grammatical errors?
- Where did the information owner or publisher get his or her information? Are sources cited? Are additional resources cited?
- Where is the organization or owner located? Is there a contact address provided that helps to legitimize the source?
- When was the information written? Is it timely, or is it hopelessly out of date? Has it been recently updated?
- Are any links included still current? Or do they lead you on a wild goose chase?
- Why was the site created? Does the organization state a mission, goal or objective?
A quick run-through of these questions can help you to get a sense for the integrity and usefulness of a website. There are no guarantees, however. The caveat of “buyer beware” or “reader beware” should be kept in mind.
The good news is that you don’t have to go it alone. Your library can help with your research needs, guiding you to carefully vetted sources of information and free, specialized online research tools.
Use Our Online Resources
If you need help finding trustworthy information on a particular topic, you’re in luck! WCPL has a variety of resources available to help you:
- Our Articles and Databases collection is accessible 24/7, so you can use it while visiting any branch library, at home, or on-the-go. Just use your library card number or password to access remotely. You’ll find resources on the Arts, Education, Health, History, and more.
- The Gale Directory Library features “51 trusted directories on companies, publishers, associations, and more—sources that cannot be found elsewhere on the Internet.” Try using this resource for your business, research and homework needs.
- The Gale Virtual Reference Library has reference e-books and encyclopedias that cover business, cultures, history, literature, science, technology, travel and more. It is similar to the great Reference section that we have upstairs in the Main library, but you can use it from the comfort of your home.
- Our Helpful Websites page features an assortment of free, informative websites that can help you with homework, research, and other informational needs. We did the groundwork for you, so you can start with a list of reliable sources on a given topic, rather than trying your luck with Google.
Take a Free Class (or Two)!
Don’t be overwhelmed by the Internet! Come to our Surfing the Web 101 class to learn the basics. We will introduce you to web browsers and search engines, teach you how to search online, and help you to evaluate what you find there.
Our computer class schedule is published monthly. Just call us or visit the web page to see what we’re offering, when.
Ask a Librarian
Last, but definitely not least, ask a librarian (or a reference assistant). We can help you find information at the library or in our digital collections. You can use our online form, email us with your questions , or call us during regular library hours at 615-595-1243.
By Stacy Parish, Children’s Department
Furry or feathered? Scaled or smooth? If you are considering getting a new pet or adding an additional beastie to your home, these are only two of the many questions that you must ask yourself and your family members, of the two-legged and four-legged variety, because your existing pets are also family.
National Pet Month was created as a celebration of the joys that pets bring to people’s lives, and vice versa. Some of the aims of National Pet Month are:
- Promoting the benefits of pet ownership
- Supporting pet adoption
- Increasing awareness of the services available from professionals who work with animals
- Raising awareness of the roles, contribution, and value to society that service animals provide
If you are already sharing your home with a pet, here are a few fun suggestions to celebrate National Pet Month:
- –Do a photo shoot or a YouTube video with your pet! Who knows, your segment with Captain Fluffypants could be the next viral sensation, maybe even with more “hits” than a Kardashian video.
- –Look into creating a “Take Your Pet To Work Day” at your place of employment. (Hey, if they let human children do it, why not the animal children? I bet you a box of Milk-Bones that some of them would be better behaved and more pleasant to have around for the day than the humans. Just sayin’.)
- –Got a hipster cat or a feline princess? Make them a customized bed that matches their personality. Pinterest has squillions of ideas.
- –Get off the couch! Hit your favorite dog-friendly park with your pooch for some new training, such as jumping through a hula hoop or learning to respond to hand signals, or just take a leisurely stroll along the trails and enjoy the day. For your feline friend, teach your cat to walk on a leash so she can enjoy the outdoors, too. Make sure you and your pet stay hydrated while playing outside.
- –Be a “pet whisperer” and learn to decipher your dog’s or cat’s body language.
Certainly, not everyone can (or should) have a pet. However, this doesn’t preclude your ability to contribute to enriching the lives of domestic animals. If you choose not to share your home with a pet, please consider making a donation to a local or national animal welfare organization. There are several listed at the end of this article.
I hope you have purr-fectly enjoyed this blog, and that I haven’t driven you barking mad. (OK, y’all know I can’t make it through a blog without at least one pun, right?)
- Happy Tales Humane Shelter
4001 Hughes Crossing, Suite 161, Franklin TN
“Happy Tales Humane is a privately funded no-kill animal shelter. We envision a world where every companion animal is loved, wanted, and nurtured. Happy Tales is committed to our mission of providing human, no-kill options for homeless and neglected animals in Middle Tennessee.”
- Snooty Giggles Dog Rescue
SGDR began when founder Shawn South-Aswad and her husband began taking in a few dogs who needed a place to stay until they could find their own home. As time passed, they developed an affinity for “senior” and medical needs dogs that were being overlooked by the general rescue population. SGDR has now grown into a foster team of more than 50 families who open their homes and hearts to these amazing dogs and foster them until the perfect match of a forever home is found.
- Williamson County Animal Center
106 Claude Yates Drive, Franklin TN
The Williamson County Animal Center is a public open-intake shelter serving the citizens of Williamson County, Tennessee. The shelter is a county tax-funded agency caring for domestic animals, and enjoys the distinction of being a 2nd place winner in the 2014 ASCPA Rachael Ray Challenge.
As always, the opinions and viewpoints expressed here belong solely to the author, who is owned by 4 cats (Roxie, Pearl, Blackie Lawless aka Boo, and Jack Bauer), a betta fish named Swimmy Hendrix, and a leopard gecko who goes by the name Charmian, which means “little joy.” No animals were harmed during the making of this blog.
By Lon Maxwell, Reference Department
You’ve all heard of Limericks, I’m sure
Whether racy or actually pure
They’re funny old rhymes
From good old times
And the good ones are rarely demure
They all start in jolly old Britain
Whose poems were occasionally written
In lyrical styles
To bring forth some smiles
And the poets were instantly smitten
The name, it comes from good green Erin
The Maigue Poets used to declare in
the city, Limerick.
Those bards got a kick
from the poetry style used there in.
The transition to bawdier verse
(Or something ocassionally worse).
The decade was roaring
and not a bit boring,
still, reactions were quite terse.
There once was a man, name of Lear
Who wrote them, though not very clear
His meanings were nonsense
With ridiculous contents
And his fame stretches from then to here
Some people delight to change form
From the meter and scheme as a norm
They sometimes depart
On whole, a la cart
But can do so in in whatever manner they choose and still leave it mildly humorous
So let us praise the limerick this way
On this, the Limerick’s Day
They bring joy and delight
And the length is just right
Except like now when I’m carried away!
As one last PS I must add
A very hard time I have had
To not use Nantucket
Or mention a bucket
But I know that would really be bad.
By Lance Hickerson, Reference Department
“Today, the average household creates enough data to fill 65 iPhones (32gb) per year. In 2020, this will grow to 318 iPhones.”
This is a conclusion from the seventh EMC Digital Universe study at Hopkinton, Massachusetts highlighting a special concern with how “data is outpacing storage. The world’s amount of available storage capacity (i.e., unused bytes) across all media types is growing slower than the digital universe.”
Concerns about digital storage and preservation are not new, but they are now more pressing. Michael Irving, of New Atlas, explains how “even the best of our current range of devices are only relatively short-term solutions to the problem. Hard drives, and optical storage such as DVDs and Blu-Ray discs, are vulnerable to damage and degradation, with a life expectancy of a few decades at best.” Irving continues:
Scientists are increasingly looking to nature’s hard drive, DNA, as a potential solution to both the capacity and longevity problems. As our own bodies demonstrate, DNA is an incredibly dense storage medium, potentially squeezing in a mind-boggling 5.5 petabits (125,000 GB) of information per cubic millimeter. By that measure, according to University of Washington professor, Luis Ceze, all 700 exabytes of today’s accessible internet would fit into a space the size of a shoebox. You could then tuck that shoebox away in a vault for thousands of years, and the DNA-stored data would remain intact.
Indeed, digital storage modeled on DNA is a promising solution. But until it becomes more than experimental, what should we do in the meantime? For instance, what if you have just been chosen as the archivist for a massive collection of family photographs? How would you choose to store the data? In addition to preserving the actual physical photos, what is the best approach from a digital point of view? After the photos are scanned, what is the best way to store them as digital documents?
A helpful answer comes from Denise May Levenick, who inherited her family photo treasures. She shares tips and techniques for preserving a collection in her latest book, How to Archive Family Photos: A step by step guide to organize and share your photos digitally (Family Tree Books: Cincinatti, 2015. In our library nonfiction section under 745.593 May). It is good to keep in mind that, although focusing on photos, the principles she outlines apply to more than photo collections.
One important decision for digital material concerns negotiating different file formats. Ms. Levenich explains about using JPG and TIFF files.
JPG is a file format that uses compression when saving files and is called a lossy file format because repeated opening and saving of JPG files deteriorates the image quality over time. TIFF is a file format that does not use compression when saving files and is considered a lossless format because it maintains its quality over time.
What this means for preservation is that the TIFF lossless format better maintains the digital data than the JPG format, which loses quality with use. One concern with TIFF files, however, is that TIFF is sometimes unreadable by various programs. In this case, our staff librarian photo buff, Rebecca Tischler, recommends saving picture files in PNG. PNG, pronounced “ping,” stands for the Portable Network Graphics format which compresses information in a lossless manner, meaning all the image information is there when the PNG file is decompressed. Further it neither degrades nor loses information with saving, restoring, or resaving like the JPG. Don’t count out the JPG, however, as it has its uses too, one being the JPG can preserve a lot more color than the PNG.
Once your format is chosen, it is necessary to back up your photo files. Ms. Levenick recommends the 3-2-1 rule.
- 3 Copies
- 2 different media
- 1 copy stored off-site
She explains, “Many different combinations will provide a good backup solution, but the key to a great backup system is to spread out your copies across different media and different storage locations. When hurricanes and tornadoes wipe out a home and family photo collection, it’s reassuring to know that digital copies are safe in the cloud, or stashed at a relative’s home in another state. Don’t wait for a disaster to safeguard your precious family memories. Practice the 3-2-1 Backup rule regularly, especially after a major scanning session.”
- Michael Irving, “New record for storing digital data in DNA” in New Atlas (July 11, 2016)
- Denise May Levenick, How to Archive Family Photos: A step by step guide to organize and share your photos digitally (Family Tree Books: Cincinatti, 2015), pp. 108-109; 126.
- The Data Deluge: An e-Science Perspective, Tony Hey*(Tony.Hey@epsrc.ac.uk) + and Anne Trefethen*(Anne.Trefethen@epsrc.ac.uk),UK e-Science Core Programme
By Rebecca Tischler, Reference Department
Last Month, we had an interactive display upstairs. Patrons could add their ancestry to a world map and see where some of their neighbors came from as well. Some had many ancestries, and some only had one, but it was interesting to see how diverse our patrons were.
And those who didn’t know their background, we pointed them to the Special Collections department, where patrons can get some help doing genealogical research with databases such as Ancestry.com and HeritageQuest. If you want to know more about where your family comes from, ask one of our wonderful Special Collections Librarians for help.
But for now, take a look at all the responses that were left at the display.
- English, Welsh, Polish, German, French, Scandinavian, Scottish
- Greek, English
- Snowbeast (AKA Canadian)
- Tamil, Hindi
- Prussia, Austria, Germany
- Italy, Germany
- Norwegian, German
- African American, German
- German, Prussian, Polish
- English, Welsh, Italian
- Tamil, Hindi
- English, Scottish, Norman French
- French, Great Britain
- Mexican, Spanish
- French, Mexican
- Italy, Germany, Europe
- English, Irish
- German, French, Irish
- Scottish, English, French
- Swedish, German
- Swiss-German, English
- French, Irish
- Polish, English, Irish
- Chinese, Hunan
- Thai, Chinese
- German, Swiss
- Pennsylvania Dutch
- Ireland, Germany
- At this library we found out the Hill family from Texas is the Hill family from ESSEX U.K.!
- Irish, Italian
- Norwegian, Icelandic
- Czech, Dutch, German, English
- Norwegian, French, Polish
- Brazilian, Italian, Irish, English
- Irish, German
- Tartar Kazakhstan
- Swedish, English, Scottish, Irish
- Scottish, Scandinavian, Polynesian, German
- Mexicana Latin of African and Spanish ancestry
- Venezuela, Peru
- Black, Irish, Blackfoot
- Cherokee, English, French, Scottish, Irish, German, Swiss, Nordic
- Spanish, Mexican
- Portuguese, Spanish, Brazilian
- Indian, German, Dutch, English
- Anglo-Irish, German-Polish
- Scottish, Welsh, English
- Spanish, Scottish, French, Polish, Welsh, Irish
- Irish, Cherokee
- Spanish, Italian, Greek, English, Scottish, Irish, Moroccan
- Indian, Irish, German, English
- German, English, Irish, Dutch
- Spanish, Scottish, Irish, English, Danish, German, French, Ecuadorian, Incan
- Ghanaian, Haitian
- German, Irish, Scottish
- English, Irish, Scottish, Welsh, French, Swiss German, Cherokee
- Celts, France, Ireland, England/Wales
- French, Scottish, Cherokee
By Lance Hickerson, Reference Department
This year’s theme supplies a good reason: “Libraries Transform.” Over twenty years ago, some were saying libraries would go the way of VHS tapes, floppy disks, and beanie babies. But libraries are still going strong! Again, one big reason is how libraries transform people who visit. Please let me illustrate with a few examples.
One morning as the doors open to WCPL, a very focused patron marched in and went immediately to the computer center where he started searching for jobs. After 20 minutes of what he called, “Nothing,” he asked for help. He explains how he just lost his job and desperately needed to find employment. A librarian responds to his request by leading him to a few of the better job search sites, while at the same time helping him narrow his search. This was so helpful that he found three promising jobs to apply for. But he soon asks for help again, as his computer skills were challenged by the application process. The librarian takes time to help him set up a profile and become familiar with just what the applications are seeking. Upon finishing the applications, the man stops to tell the helpful librarian, “Thanks for being so kind to me and taking time. It restores my belief in human kindness.” This patron continues to come to the library, and will never forget how a librarian took time to help transform his situation.
Several weeks later a library patron approached the reference desk with a request. She had retired from two careers but, in her words, “had missed the computer age.” Her children and grandchildren asked her again and again to learn computers, but she held back. Until today. The patron wanted to “turn over a new leaf” and learn how to use a computer, so as to surprise her children by being able to look up answers online all by herself. The librarian gladly set up a one-on-one time with the patron, during which time, the patron disclosed, “I have to tell you, I have arthritis and trembling so bad that I have trouble using the mouse.” Not to be deterred, the librarian scheduled three months of one-on-one times starting with exercises on using the mouse. Although slow going at first, the patron learned to control and use the mouse, which led to creating her first email account. She learned to make and evaluate online searches as well as how to make lists and write letters in Microsoft Word. Over three months she went from being fully dependent on the librarian to semidependence to joyous independence. She reported how her children were impressed with her “entering the computer age,” but that now she uses the computer just because she enjoys it. The patron and her family were grateful that “libraries transform.”
There are many other stories I wish we could relate about patrons who experience the library as a place for transformation. They would talk about learning new skills like Excel; finding interesting books never before considered; discovering Powerspeak Languages to learn a language for their summer vacation; enjoying their first eBook; seeing a program on square foot gardening that doubled their gardening production; tailoring a resume and cover letter for a new career; finding a dyslexia friendly font; and many other stories. All would tell of how libraries transform and become very personal reasons why we celebrate National Library Week.