Blog Archives

Get free online Magazines with ZINIO!

By Jessica Dunkel, Reference Department

Did you know that having a Williamson County library card gives you access to a large selection of free online magazines? Our magazine database, Zinio, is a wonderful way to get your magazine fix without having to visit the library! (We do love when you visit, but we also appreciate instant access to free things. We’re sure you do, too.)

After you create an account (directions listed below), you can log in and start reading immediately on your home computer, laptop, tablet, or smart phone. You can also get the Zinio App and read wirelessly on your iPad, iPhone, Android, or Kindle HD/HDX.

Zinio gives you access to over 60 different magazines. A few titles include Good Housekeeping, National Geographic, The Oprah Magazine, Rolling Stone, Newsweek, Cosmopolitan, Reader’s Digest, Food Network, Seventeen, Country Gardens, Weightwatchers, Popular Science, Women’s Health, The Economist, Bloomberg Business Week, Dwell, and many more!

Still not convinced that you need Zinio in your life right now? Here are some more cool features:

  • If you’re hooked up to a printer you can print the pages you want to keep, like recipes, articles for school projects, or those top 10 lists you want to hang on to.
  • Because you have instant digital access, you’ll always have the latest issue as soon as it’s published.
  • You’ll also have access to older issues so you can check out what you may have missed.
  • The magazines are simple to navigate. You can flip through pages one by one or select a specific page in the page overview feature. There’s a zoom feature if you want a closer look at the pictures or text. And if flipping through each page doesn’t appeal to you, there’s an option to scroll down through the magazine like you would on a normal webpage. Here’s a preview:

zinio

Screenshot from Prevention Magazine December 2015

How to get Zinio

  1. Go to http://lib.williamson-tn.org/
  2. Select eLibrary Digital from the menu on the left
  3. Select Databases by Title
  4. Click on V-Z
  5. To read magazines on your internet browser: click on Zinio Online Magazines
  6. To read magazines on an iPad, iPad, iPhone, Android, or Kindle HD/HDX: click on Zinio Information / FAQ for instructions

Discover or catch up on your favorite magazines instantly with Zinio! As always, call us at the Reference Desk at 615-595-1243 if you have any questions. Happy reading!

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Awesome Box at the Main Library

By Jessica Dunkel, Reference Department

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Click image to go to our Awesome Box website!

Have you ever read or watched something from the library that you absolutely LOVED and wanted to tell everyone about? Well now you can! Next time you check out something awesome from the library, return it to our Awesome Box. From there, we’ll spread the word that it is awesome!

What is an Awesome Box?

  • An Awesome Box is a book drop for library items you think are awesome! It’s just like a regular book drop. But instead of putting items back on the shelf after you return them, we make a note of what you put in the Awesome Box and share it with everyone so they can know it’s is awesome, too!

What kinds of things should I put in the Awesome Box?

  • Any library materials including books, DVD’s, or Audiobooks you find awesome. They can be helpful, mind-blowing, your all-time favorites, etc. Whatever you think other people would enjoy knowing about.
  • Basically, if it was fantastic, helpful, amazing, valuable, entertaining, or just all-around awesome, put it in, so that everyone knows how good it was.

img_1271Does putting items in the Awesome Box actually return them?

  • Yes – if you put an item in the Awesome Box it will be returned to the library (and then Awesomed!)

Where can I see what people have put in the Awesome Box?

  • You’ll find what people have “Recently Awesomed” on our Awesome Box bulletin board just inside the Main Library’s entrance.
  • For a full list of what has been “Awesomed” in the past 30 days at our library, visit this website from our homepage: https://wcpltn.libib.com/i/recently-awesomed. You’ll also find links to everything that our patron’s have declared Awesome, including movies and Awesome books for adults, teens, and kids.

So the next time you’re returning something, remember: the awesome things go in the Awesome Box!

 


References:

Celebrate Native American Heritage Month!

By Jessica Dunkel, Reference Departmentnative-american-heritage-month

History

Native American Heritage Month (also known as “National American Indian Heritage Month” and “National American Indian and Alaska Native Heritage Month”) hasn’t been around for very long.  Although Native Americans have resided on the continent for approximately 12,000 years, it wasn’t until November 1990 that President George H. W. Bush declared November to be “National American Indian Heritage Month”.

Honoring the month

Many of us are not exposed to Native American culture and do not know much about Native people, their way of life, and the issues they face.  In order to honor this month, I’ve compiled some facts and figures, as well as answers to questions some of us may have about Native Americans and their culture.  This list is far from complete, and I encourage you to discover what you’ve always wanted to learn about Native people and their history.

Below you will also find ways to celebrate Native American Heritage Month for yourself, plus Fiction and Non-Fiction books from Native American authors – and a few movies, too.  All titles are available at our library, so get to celebrating!

Census information as of 2014

Population:  American Indians and Alaska Natives made up 2% of the US population (5.4 million people), including those that are more than one race.

Race:  Of the 5.4 million, only 48% are fully American Indian or Alaska Natives.  The other 52% are American Indian or Alaska Natives in combination with at least one other race.

Reservations and Tribes:  As of 2015 there were 326 federally recognized American Indian reservations and 566 federally recognized American Indian tribes.

Income:  The median income for single-race Native American and Alaska Native households was $37,227 (compared to $53,657 for the United States as a whole).

Poverty:  Single-race Native Americans and Alaska Natives had a poverty rate of 28.3%, the highest rate of any race group in America.

Higher Education:  13.9% of single-race Native Americans and Alaska Natives, ages 25 and over, had a bachelor’s, graduate, or professional degree.

Language:  26.8% of single-race Native Americans and Alaska Natives ages 5 and older spoke a language other than English at home.

2010 American Indians and Alaska Natives in the United States Map from the U.S. Census Bureau

2010 American Indians and Alaska Natives in the United States Map from the U.S. Census Bureau

More interesting facts here

FAQ about Native Americans

Are all Native Americans considered US citizens?

  • In 1924, all Native Americans who were born in the US were granted citizenship, although not all states allowed them to vote until 1957.

Do all Native Americans live on reservations?

  • According to the 2010 census, only 22% of the country’s 5.2 million Native Americans live on tribal lands. Many Natives have left reservations seeking jobs and higher education.

Do any Native Americans still live on their original tribal land?

  • There are some reservations that are located on a tribe’s original land, while others were created by the Federal government for the tribes forced from their land.

Do tribes make their own laws, or live under the laws of the US?

  • Federally recognized tribes have a sovereign, government-to-government relationship with the United States. They legally govern themselves aside from some restrictions from Congress, federal courts, and treaties with the U.S.  They are able to form their own governments, make and enforce laws, tax, provide licenses and regulate activities, and more.  They are unable to print their own currency, start wars, or take part in foreign relations.

What is life like on a reservation?

  • Living on a reservation has been compared by some to living in a Third World country. For many there are few jobs, a lack of employment opportunity, and inadequate and substandard housing including a lack of running water, phones, and electricity.

Can anyone visit a reservation?

  • All reservations have their own laws and therefore different policies on visiting. Make sure to contact the proper tribe to ask about their policy and be aware of etiquette if given permission to visit.  Here is a link to the Tribal Leaders Directory that provides contact information for each tribe.  Here is a link to some tips on visiting a reservation.

Do Native Americans still speak their tribe’s language?

  • Before European influence, it is estimated that there were over 100,000 different Native languages. Today, over 70% of Native Americans say they only speak English at home.  Navajo is the most-spoken Native language, at 150,000 people.

What is the history behind Native American names?

  • This is a fascinating topic that cannot be fully represented by a short answer. The brief version is that many Native Americans have a complex naming tradition.  Their names are said to speak to an individual’s personality and even change over the course of their lives.

What was the Native American population before 1492?

  • No one knows for sure. Not many population records were kept at all during that time period.  All scientists have to go on are historical writings, and even then they can only guess.  At the low end, anthropologist Alfred Kroeber estimated 8.4 million.  At the high end, anthropologist Henry Dobyn estimated 112.5 million.  What almost everyone can agree on is that the Native population decreased significantly after 1492.

Do Native Americans celebrate Thanksgiving?

  • In 2015, Huffington Post published an article that interviewed the ancestors of the Mashpee Wampanoag tribe, the first tribe to make contact with the Massachusetts Pilgrims of 1620. This is a quote from their current tribal president and chairman on how he celebrates the holiday:  “We are Americans as well, and so even today, I sit down at Thanksgiving with family.”  He goes on to note that Thanksgiving is equally a time to reflect on the tragedies they suffered then and ones they continue to suffer today.  So while many consider it a day to give thanks, it is also seen as a national day of mourning.

What are some current issues facing Native Americans today?

  • The Dakota Access Pipeline has been in the news recently. The construction of the pipeline near the Standing Rock Sioux reservation may potentially threaten their water supply.  The Sioux also say the pipeline would disrupt sacred land.
  • Click here for a Smithsonian article about the current controversy, and here to visit the Standing Rock Sioux website.

How can I find out if I have Native American ancestors?

  • If you believe you may have Native American ancestry, here is a guide provided by the Office of Public Affairs – Indian Affairs on how to begin genealogical research as well as tribal enrollment information.
  • Visit us at the Williamson County Public Library to get free access to Ancestry.com with your library card.

6881eed3f57f35152cae7b85252d784dHow can I participate in Native American Heritage Month?

  • Click here for some creative ideas on how to celebrate.
  • Read a book or watch a movie – all available @WCPL!
  • Non-Fiction
    • The Earth Is Weeping: The Epic Story of the Indian Wars for the American West by Peter Cozzens (978.02 COZ)
    • Short Nights of the Shadow Catcher: The Epic Life and Immortal Photographs of Edward Curtis by Timothy Egan (770.92 EGA)
    • Empire of the Summer Moon : Quanah Parker and the Rise and Fall of the Comanches, the Most Powerful Indian Tribe in American History by S.C. Gwynne (978.004974572 GWY)
    • 1491: New Revelations of the Americas before Columbus by Charles C. Mann (970.011 MAN)
    • With My Own Eyes: A Lakota Woman Tells Her People’s History by Susan Bordeaux Bettelyoun (973.04975 BET)
    • On the REZ by Ian Frazier (978.366 FRA)
    • Killing Custer by James Welch (973.82 WEL)
  • Fiction
    • Reservation Blues by Sherman Alexie (F ALE)
    • House Made of Dawn by N. Scott Momaday (F MOM)
    • The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie (YA F ALE)
  • Film
    • Smoke Signals (DVD SMOKE)
    • Dances with Wolves (DVD DANCES)
    • The Last of the Mohicans (DVD LAST)
    • Longmire – TV series (DVD LONGMIRE)
    • Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee – (DVD BURY)
  • More Suggested Reading:

Other Resources for Native American History Month

  • Click here for audio and video resources from the Library of Congress, Smithsonian, and more.

It is impossible to accurately represent an entire people in a single blog while retaining the real essence, beauty, and complexity of their culture.  I urge everyone who is interested in any aspect of Native American life to read more, learn more, and attempt to truly understand the lives and history of America’s Native people.

Read the rest of this entry

Guy Fawkes Day/Bonfire Night

By Jessica Dunkel, Reference Department

“Remember, remember, the 5th of November

Gunpowder treason and plot…”

Who is Guy Fawkes and why do they burn his effigies in England every 5th of November? I mean — that seems a bit harsh. To be fair, the modern-day celebration is more about fireworks and parades, which is far more humane than what actually happened to Guy Fawkes in the aftermath of November 5th, 1605.

Some History: A few months before the fateful November 5th a group of men, Guy Fawkes among them, were plotting to kill King James I of England. Why, you ask, would they want to do such a thing?

The hatred of the monarchy began with the throne’s predecessor, Queen Elizabeth I. Under Elizabeth’s reign it was illegal for Catholics like Fawkes and his co-conspirators to celebrate mass or marry according to Catholic rites. Maybe if the Pope hadn’t excommunicated Elizabeth I in 1570 she would not have gone to such lengths, which included killing dozens of priests.

After the reign of Elizabeth I ended in 1603 Catholics in England had hope that King James I would be different. His mother, Mary Queen of Scotts, was Catholic, and it was said that his wife converted to Catholicism. It was even rumored that King James I would convert as well. Unfortunately for the Catholic population, King James I treated them just as poorly as the former Queen had. He publically condemned the Catholic religion, referred to it as a superstition, and ordered all Catholic priests to leave England. And so, a group of Catholic dissidents decided to blow him up.

But how do you go about blowing up the King of England? In what would later be called the “Gunpowder Plot”, Guy Fawkes and 12 others planned to blow him up indirectly.fawkes-1

The Plot: Many people believe that Guy Fawkes was the mastermind behind the Gunpowder Plot. In reality, he’s probably so popular because he was caught in the act of carrying it out. The real leader and creator of the plot was Robert Catesby. His idea was to kill the king, kidnap his daughter, and marry her off to a Catholic to restore their rights in the kingdom. In order to do that the current regime had to be destroyed.

Using the alias John Johnson, Fawkes was chosen to pose as caretaker of a cellar located directly below the House of Lords. The group had managed to smuggle 36 barrels of gunpowder into the cellar and would wait until the 5th of November when Parliament was in session for Fawkes to light the fuse.

The Mysterious Letter: To this day no one knows who sent the letter that unraveled the Gunpowder Plot. The letter advised its recipient to avoid the House of Lords, which was handed over to authorities and spurred them to search Westminster Palace. They found Fawkes in his cellar, along with the barrels of gunpowder and a match. That was all of the evidence they needed to capture Fawkes and torture him until (after two grueling days) he revealed the names of his co-conspirators. Four were killed while resisting arrest; the others were tried and executed for their treason.

The Punishment: Being found guilty of treason in seventeenth-century England was one of the last things you would ever want to happen. Fawkes was to be hung, drawn, and quartered after having his stomach opened before his eyes. Fawkes, a rebel until his death, jumped off the hangman’s platform and died from a broken neck. Although he saved himself from his horrible punishment, they still quartered him to be sent to the four corners of the kingdom as a warning to potential traitors.

Unintentional Consequences: The Gunpowder Plot had not only failed, it backfired. King James I worked even harder to make sure Catholics knew he, not the Pope, had authority over them. The king required that every citizen take an oath saying just that. Catholics in England were not fully liberated from legal restrictions including the right to vote, practice law, or serve in the military until the 19th century.

fawkes-2

Guy Fawkes Night celebrations in Lewes, England

The Celebration: The king and parliament had narrowly escaped being blown to pieces. In 1606 they would officially commemorate November 5th as a day of thanks and celebration. Back then, there was still an anti-Catholic atmosphere surrounding the festivities. They would burn effigies of the Pope and Guy Fawkes. They also gathered for parades, set off fireworks, and made huge bonfires.

Today’s Celebrations: Britain still celebrates Guy Fawkes Day every 5th of November. Although the anti-Catholic sentiment is nowhere near as wide-spread, some groups still burn effigies of the 1605 Pope in keeping with tradition. The town of Lewes is particularly noted for burning effigies, including the Pope, Guy Fawkes, and current political figures. Different towns celebrate in different ways, but among the celebrations you will find burning tar barrels, seriously big bonfires, fireworks, torches, costumes, and members of bonfire societies leaping through open flames. Not an event for the faint of heart.

fawkes-4

Wax Guy Fawkes effigy ready for the bonfire

The Mask: Americans might not know Guy Fawkes from the 5th of November plot, but from the Guy Fawkes masks used by protestors to protect their identity. The graphic novel and film V for Vendetta used the mask while overthrowing a suppressive government in future dystopian England. What inspired protestors to use it in real-life situations? The illustrator of the graphic novel, David Lloyd, says it best, “It’s a great symbol of protest for anyone who sees tyranny.”

Many groups have used Guy Fawkes’ face as a way to protect their identity while protesting against what they consider to be tyrannical establishments. From the hactivist group Anonymous to Egyptian protestors during the Arab Spring movement, these masks have become a symbol of anti-establishment protest.

Guy Fawkes may have lost the battle for Catholic rights in 17th century England, but his face has come to serve as a symbol of protest throughout the world.

Hactivist group Anonymous protesting at the Scientology area in Los Angeles

Hactivist group Anonymous protesting at the Scientology area in Los Angeles

 


Sources:

Helpful Links for Small Businesses

By Jessica Dunkel, Reference Departmentsmall businesses
Have you ever dreamed of starting your own business but feel completely overwhelmed? Or maybe you’ve already taken the first leap and need some additional help. Although starting and maintaining a small business can seem like an uphill battle, there are countless resources to turn to when you’re feeling in over your head. Below you’ll find links that will help you to start and maintain your small business with information ranging from financing and management assistance to tips, strategies, mentoring tools, and success stories from other small businesses.

Need financing for your small business but can’t get it through traditional banks?

Assistance for small and minority-owned businesses

  • The Tennessee Treasury Department developed the Small and Minority-owned Business Program to provide loans and program services, such as technical assistance, to foster the expansion of small and minority-owned business in Tennessee.

Need a mentor to help jump start or retool your business?

Small Business Resources from Tennessee Libraries

  • The Tennessee Electronic Library (TEL), administered by the Tennessee State Library and Archives, includes the Infotrac Small Business Collection which features over 200 articles and journals that highlight tips, strategies and success stories of small businesses.

With your Williamson County library card you can also visit our homepage  and use our “eLibrary Digital” resources for even more business materials. Click here, or go to eLibrary Digital, Articles and Databases, and select the Business category from the top of the list. As always, we love helping our patrons find what they need to succeed. Visit us at your local library to find even more small business resources including books, magazines, newspapers, and directories.

Rental and Mortgage Assistance Programs

By Jessica Dunkel, Reference Department

At the library, we do more than just help people find the best books (although we love doing that, too). We also care about helping people find the best information to improve their lives. As one of the biggest bills of the month, rent can be a major financial stress. In this article on free resources we’ve compiled some helpful links from http://www.needhelppayingbills.com to organizations that may help you, a family member, or a friend get the assistance you need.

Click on the links below for access to various government, local, national, non-profit and charity programs that provide direct rental or financial assistance, while others offer referrals or help people sign up for public funding and private resources.

And don’t think we forgot about you home owners! Keep scrolling down for more information on foreclosures, refinancing, and mortgage-related scams to avoid.


Rental Assistance


State Assistance Programs and Organizationsbuilding

Many states and local governments operate agencies and public assistance type programs that can help you with paying your rent, security deposits, and other housing expenses. Contact the assistance agencies and programs to get information on rent help from these types of resources, or call your local community action agency to learn about what other government services and programs may be available.

Rent Assistance from Federal Stimulus Program

The federal government is providing billions of dollars for housing and rental assistance as a result of the stimulus program. The name of the program being funded is The Homeless Prevention and Rapid Re-Housing Program (more on this program), and most of the rental help is being distributed at the local government level. So your local social service agency, county government, charities and other organizations will process applications.

Rental Assistance from Federal Government Organizations

The largest program is HUD (Housing and Urban Development). Almost 1.5 million families use this program and it helps those in need pay their rent and security deposits. Other housing costs such as energy bills may be paid for as well. It is targeted to low income individuals, including senior citizens and the disabled. In addition to offering grants that help pay rent, the government Rental Voucher Program also helps to increase the availability of affordable housing choices by allowing families to select privately owned rental housing. More.

USDA Rural Development provides affordable housing, vouchers, and rental assistance for struggling rural families. Beneficiaries tend to be low-income residents, disabled, and the elderly who live in multiunit housing buildings. Continue.

Veterans and their families can get help with paying rent from a federal government resource known as Veterans Affairs Supportive Housing Program. This service is providing rental assistance vouchers and security deposit assistance to both veterans and their family members. More.

Receive legal advice to prevent evictions. Over one million people per year receive some form of free legal assistance and counsel to help them deal with eviction notices from the federal government funded Legal Services Corp. Attorneys can try to mediate a solution with your landlord and advise you on your rights. Or they can help you apply for government benefits such section 8, help with housing discrimination, and provide other aid. Click here to read more.

Or if you are being evicted because your landlord is facing foreclosure, read about your tenant – landlord foreclosure rights.

Apply for government or private grants. Many non-profit private organizations as well as the government have information on or offer grants that can be used to help pay rent.

Eviction Prevention Programs

Find emergency rental assistance from programs that prevent homelessness and evictions. The federal government as well as many local and state governments and nonprofit organizations have emergency eviction prevention programs in place for low and moderate income individuals and families. Many of the programs will try to prevent evictions and associated lawsuits, with a goal of stopping homelessness. Some even try to stop foreclosures. They provide resources such as mediation, landlord and tenant assessments, conflict resolution, direct rent payments and grants to tenants, and other forms of rental assistance. Or an agency may be able to help you locate more affordable housing. Learn more.

Rent assistance from charities and other local resources

For short term rent help look to your local community, including non-profits and charities. If you are experiencing a difficult time in paying your rent for a month or if you think you may soon fall behind, you should contact community based and local agencies that may be able to help you and your family with paying housing costs, rent and security deposits. There are many community groups, churches, and charitable organizations that will sometimes have funds that can help people who are having financial difficulties. Some of the organizations, such as the Salvation Army and United Way, can assist with making rent payments if they have funding. Priority is often given to people who are faced with a short term financial hardship or crisis. They will also often provide case management, referrals, and other social services. See the following link of organizations that can help.

There are also other charities and not for profit organizations that can help with housing costs, such as utility and heating bills. Resources provided are often one-time-only or they are given on a first-come-first-served basis, so you should not depend on these sources over the long term for rent or housing assistance. Calling these organizations, even if you are affiliated with their group or already a member, can sometimes get you the help you need. Or if an organization does not have funding, many can refer people to another agency that can help with paying rent and bills if your need is great.

Some examples of agencies that can help with these types of expenses include Catholic Charities, government social service offices, United Way, American Red Cross, the Salvation Army, and Legal Aid Society. There are many others. Find more emergency rent assistance agencies.

Many local churches are increasing their assistance programs, including offering more rent help, electric bill aid, and more. However many churches rely heavily on donations from the community and therefore tend to have very limited funding available.

Short term and transitional housing programs are operated by numerous non-profit agencies. For families that are behind on their rent and facing imminent eviction or individuals that are currently homeless, these programs can help them find a place to live, such as a shelter, and gain self-sufficiency. Once that occurs, get assistance in locating a new, low income home to live in. While more limited, some of these transitional services can direct qualified clients to resources that can help them pay for expenses such as moving costs, a security deposit, or maybe even their first month’s rent. Read more.

Communication is always key. Contact your creditors, as well as your landlord, and communicate with them and tell them exactly what is going on. You need to be very honest about every part of your financial picture. You can ask for a lower temporary monthly rental payment, or even ask for a skipped payment schedule or some type of installment plan. The landlord and creditors will appreciate you being proactive, and in many cases they would rather keep you as a tenant than have to evict you, as it can cost them thousands of dollars to go through the eviction process, market the site, find a new tenant, run background checks on the new tenant, etc. It is many times in their best interest to work with you to find a solution.


Mortgage Assistance


In danger of foreclosure on your home?save money

Are you anticipating a change to your adjustable mortgage that will be too expensive for you? Do not ignore the situation. Act now. The Tennessee Housing Development Agency has provided training to many organizations across Tennessee that will provide free and confidential counseling about your options.

Learn about Great Save, a new refinance program from THDA

The Tennessee Housing Development Agency has a new mortgage program called Great Save to refinance adjustable rate mortgage loans closed after December 31, 2001 and before January 1, 2008. To qualify, the THDA must determine that a financial hardship to the borrower is likely if they do not refinance.

Involved in a possible lending or mortgage-related scam?

The Department of Financial Institution’s Consumer Resources Division will identify if there is a problem and help you through the formal complaint process.


 

As Benjamin Franklin said, “An investment in knowledge always pays the best interest.” Armed with the proper financial knowledge, this metaphor can become a reality. Finding the right assistance can open many doors – we hope you or someone you know can benefit from these free, helpful resources!

It’s Tax Time!

By Jessica Dunkel, Reference Departmenttaxes

It’s tax season already. To make your life a bit easier, we’ve compiled a list of tax resources below, including FREE tax assistance from VITA for those who qualify. Also, keep reading to find out which tax forms will be available at Williamson County Public Library this year.

Free Tax Assistance

If your annual household income is less than $62,000, you qualify for free tax assistance through VITA. VITA (Volunteer Income Tax Assistance) are IRS-certified volunteers who provide free basic income tax return preparation with electronic filing. VITA will be at the Williamson County Public Library on the dates listed below. Make sure to call VITA for an appointment at 615-830-7940, unless you are using their self-help Kiosk which is available on Monday’s at the main branch.

VITA @ Williamson County Public Library

Vita_logo_finalWHEN

VITA will be at the Main Branch of the Williamson County Library from January 30 – April 15, 2016.

  • Saturday mornings, 9:00 am – 12:30 pm (Call for an appointment)
  • Wednesday evenings, 3:30 pm – 7:30 pm (Call for an appointment)
  • Self-help Kiosk and Walk-Ins on Monday mornings, 9:00 am – 12:00 pm

You must call VITA at 615-830-7940 to make an appointment for Saturdays and Wednesdays at the Main Library.

EXCEPTIONS: VITA will NOT be at the Main Library on the following days:

  • Monday, February 15 – Library closed: Presidents Day
  • Saturday, February 20 – Library event
  • Wednesday, March 2 – Book Sale set up
  • Saturday, March 5 – Book Sale
  • Monday, March 7 – Book Sale
  • Saturday, March 19 – Library event

WHAT YOU’LL NEED

  • Photo ID for both spouses (if filing jointly)
  • Original copies of Social Security cards of ITINs (for everyone going on the return. VITA sites require this every year; no photocopies!)
  • Proof of income (a W2 for each employer during the tax year, 1099s, Social Security Income, Unemployment, Interest, etc.)
  • Healthcare Form 1095
  • Proof of expenses if claiming any (childcare expenses, education expenses, medical expenses, property tax, itemized deductions, etc.)
  • Proof of mileage if claiming any (must be a written record. Please total any business expenses before arriving.)
  • Both spouses must be present if filing a joint return
  • Last year’s tax return (helpful in explaining difference in refund amounts, consistent filing, etc.)
  • Direct Deposit information (proof of account needed such as a checkbook. Most banks do not give account numbers out over the phone!)

Other VITA locations in Williamson County

VITA will be at other locations throughout Williamson County. All locations have their own specific dates and times. Visit the Library’s tax assistance page and click on “Williamson County Assistance Sites” for additional locations, dates, and times. (Or, click here).

Additional Low Income Tax Prep/VITA Information

Click here for more information on low income tax assistance as well as additional VITA locations throughout the US.

Other Tax Resources

taxes2

If you have other tax questions or are looking for additional forms, visit the IRS website at www.irs.gov.

You can also e-File your Federal Tax Return on the IRS website through software called Free File. Click here for more information.

Another resource for help with income, property, and other taxes can be found here on needhelppayingbills.com.

For information about the State of Tennessee individual tax form (Hall Income Tax), visit http://www.tennessee.gov/revenue/topic/hall-income-tax

Tax Forms @ the Library

According to the IRS, 95 percent of taxpayers filed their tax returns electronically last tax season. As a result, the agency is significantly decreasing the variety of paper forms it offers to agencies like the Library. This year, we’ll receive a limited number of the following federal tax forms from the IRS:

  • Form 1040 and Instructions
  • Form 1040 A and Instructions
  • Form 1040 EZ and Instructions

Once the forms arrive, they will be kept at the Reference Desk on the 2nd floor and will be accessible to the public on a first-come, first-served basis.

Schedules and forms that will not be available in paper form at the Library can be downloaded and printed from the IRS website (www.irs.gov). Reference staff can help you download and print forms at the Library for 10 cents a page.

If you have any questions, please feel free to give the Main Library’s Reference Desk a call at 615-595-1243.

 


P.S. — We were recently sent this lovely email from US Citizenship and Immigration Services, just some really good info…

We want you to be aware of tax scams! Today’s lesson: phone scams.

Do not fall victim to scammers who call and say they are with the Internal Revenue Service (IRS)! There has been an increase in aggressive phone scams where people call and threaten you with police arrest or deportation if you don’t pay them.

Even if you do owe taxes…

  • The IRS will NEVER call and demand immediate payment over the phone.
  • The IRS will NEVER try to threaten or intimidate you, demand payment with a prepaid debit card, or ask for your credit card or debit card number over the phone.
  • The IRS will NEVER threaten to call the police or immigration agents if you don’t pay.

If you get a call like this, report it to the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration by calling 800-366-4484 or visiting www.tigta.gov. Also, report it to the Federal Trade Commission at www.ftc.gov/complaint.

War of the Worlds (We’re all gonna die.)

By Jessica Dunkel, Reference Department

It’s the evening before Halloween, October 30th, 1938, a Sunday. If you were alive on that particular Sunday in 1938 and were fortunate enough to have a radio set, you’d probably be gathered around listening to either one radio channel or the other; there were only two. You’d have taken your pick between a light comedy series or a dramatic play. Perhaps you tuned in to the play a little late at 8:12pm, switching channels after the comedy musings of ventriloquist Edgar Bergen ended, and missed the broadcaster’s announcement that the program you were about to hear was a fictional play put on by Orson Welles and the Mercury Theatre.

wow3Orson Welles, age 23 at the time, was an unknown actor and writer who had been on the radio for several years as the voice of “The Shadow”, a popular mystery program. Later, some would speculate that the Halloween Eve broadcast is what launched Welles’ career out of obscurity and into a Hollywood studio where he would produce, co-write, direct, and star in what many call the greatest American film ever made, Citizen Kane. But for now, Welles is still an obscure voice actor, standing in front of a microphone with his other actors and sound effects men, on the verge of terrifying a nation.

That night, Welles and his Mercury Theater Company were presenting an updated radio version of H.G. Wells’ (no relation) War of the Worlds – a science fiction novel published in 1898. After the Mercury Players were announced, however, the listeners did not hear the opening lines of a play as they might have expected. Instead, several minutes of Spanish tango music played before a series of unsettling, although dramatized, news-flashes:

“Ladies and gentlemen, we interrupt our program of dance music to bring you a special bulletin from the Intercontinental Radio News.”

The news flashes weaved in and out of the musical program to keep listeners up-to-date on the recent gas explosions on Mars. Listeners were taken to the Princeton Observatory where the (fictitious) world-famous Professor Pierson relayed breaking news as he gazed through the lens of his giant microscope. Although the professor could not account for the sudden eruptions on the red planet, the announcer assured everyone that Mars was “a safe enough distance” at 40 million miles away. Professor Pierson was then handed a special news bulletin:

“…Seismograph registered shock of almost earthquake intensity occurring within a radius of twenty miles of Princeton. Please investigate.”

Professor Pierson dismissed this as a coincidental meteorite of an unusually large size that had nothing to do with the Mars explosions. After another round of musical entertainment, however, a breaking news bulletin confirms – the object was no meteorite. Our announcer, now at the scene, describes the strange object:

“Yes, I guess that’s the . . . thing, directly in front of me, half buried in a vast pit. Must have struck with terrific force. …Doesn’t look very much like a meteor… It looks more like a huge cylinder.”

According to the announcer, a crowd begins to form near the yellow-white object made of strange metal. The police attempt to push the mounting crowd back. And then, an unnamable noise is heard from inside of the object. Is it scraping? No one seems to know, until:

“She’s movin’! Look, the darn thing’s unscrewing! … Good heavens, something’s wriggling out of the shadow like a gray snake. Now it’s another one, and another. They look like tentacles to me. There, I can see the thing’s body. It’s large, large as a bear and it glistens like wet leather. But that face, it . . . Ladies and gentlemen, it’s indescribable. I can hardly force myself to keep looking at it. The eyes are black and gleam like a serpent. The mouth is V-shaped with saliva dripping from its rimless lips that seem to quiver and pulsate.”

It is difficult to say at which point the radio audience, thousands of them across the country, started to panic. Weather they’d forgotten this was a dramatization or missed the opening announcements altogether, the bombardment of realistic “news flashes” were taken seriously and grew more terrifying by the minute:

“A humped shape is rising out of the pit. I can make out a small beam of light against a mirror. What’s that? There’s a jet of flame springing from the mirror, and it leaps right at the advancing men. It strikes them head on! Good Lord, they’re turning into flame!”
(SCREAMS AND UNEARTHLY SHRIEKS)
“Now the whole field’s caught fire. (EXPLOSION) The woods . . . the barns . . . the gas tanks of automobiles . . . it’s spreading everywhere.”

Firefighters rush to the scene. Fortunately the monster has gone back into its cylinder. With forty dead, New Jersey under martial law, and our faithful announcer lying charred in a nearby hospital, a second announcer informs us that it’s “all quiet in the pit”. The media decides to dedicate all radio coverage to the event, and in a statement that will later ring with irony, exclaims:

“In view of the gravity of the situation, and believing that radio has a responsibility to serve in the public interest at all times, we are turning over our facilities to the state militia at Trenton.”

wowWe are taken back to the landing site, where seven thousand men armed with rifles and machine guns have surrounded the cylinder. A solid metal monster rises from the ship, an impenetrable shield on legs taller than trees. The announcer concludes that the gas explosions were no coincidence. A Martian army has invaded planet Earth. He leaves little room for hope, exclaiming:

“The battle… has ended in one of the most startling defeats ever suffered by any army in modern times; seven thousand men armed with rifles and machine guns pitted against a single fighting machine of the invaders from Mars. One hundred and twenty known survivors. The rest strewn over the battle area…, crushed and trampled to death under the metal feet of the monster, or burned to cinders by its heat ray. The monster is now in control of the middle section of New Jersey and has effectively cut the state through its center… By morning the fugitives will have swelled Philadelphia, Camden, and Trenton, it is estimated, to twice their normal population… We take you now to Washington for a special broadcast on the National Emergency…”

Back in reality, the news of a Martian invasion was spreading through telephones and streets. Weeping, frantic women called police stations, cars packed full of children and luggage clogged the roads. An Indianapolis woman barged into a church service, screaming, “New York destroyed; it’s the end of the world. You might as well go home to die. I just heard it on the radio.” And on the radio, the Martians kept coming. New ships were spotted in the air and discovered on land while the gas explosions on Mars continued.

“They seem to be making conscious effort to avoid destruction of cities and countryside. However, they stop to uproot power lines, bridges, and railroad tracks. Their apparent objective is to crush resistance, paralyze communication, and disorganize human society.”

By that time the fictional war was in full swing. An officer shouted coordinates. The audience heard gun shots, coughing, and voices muffled by gas masks. The Martian’s heat rays sprayed over the troops. Their poisonous black gas, undeterred by the masks, poured through the streets of New Jersey. They effectively destroyed the entire army. Frantic, the announcer relayed the final news:

“This is the end now. Smoke comes out . . . black smoke, drifting over the city. People in the streets see it now . . . thousands of them, dropping in like rats. Now the smoke’s spreading faster. It’s reached Times Square. People trying to run away from it, but it’s no use. They’re falling like flies. Now the smoke’s crossing Sixth Avenue . . . Fifth Avenue . . . one hundred yards away . . . it’s fifty feet . . .”
(BODY FALLS)
OPERATOR: “2X2L calling CQ . . . 2X2L calling CQ . . . 2X2L calling CQ . . . New York. Isn’t there anyone on the air? Isn’t there anyone on the air? Isn’t there anyone . . . 2X2L”

With the announcer dead, it was time for intermission.

If you weren’t already shouting warnings in the streets, moving your living room furniture in preparation for an alien ambush, running on foot to a nearby park, preparing to poison yourself, rushing to your nearest church for some last-minute saving, or flooding radio and police stations with questions about evacuation procedures (all of which really happened), and were still listening to your radio, this intermission may have assured you that the hysteria was all fiction.wow2

But the reaction was so overwhelming that the Associated Press sent out a news bulletin at 8:48 PM informing everyone that this was “a studio dramatization”. As soon as news of the hysteria reached Orson Welles in the studio, he was said to have broken character and to also reassure listeners that this was a fictional event.

After the public had been informed that the play was intended for nothing more than Halloween entertainment, people were infuriated. Some speculated that Orson Welles was trying to create hysteria, but his reaction suggests otherwise. In his own words he was “just stunned” by the audience’s panic, stating, “Everything seems like a dream”.
Thomas Doherty, Professor of American studies, considers the event to be “… among the top five mass-communications events in history — along with the Kennedy assassination, Pearl Harbor, 9/11 and the Lindbergh baby kidnapping.” We may overlook this mass-communication event because in this case, there was no event. Panic was created by smoke, mirrors, and what this author assumes to be the most talented voice actors and sound effects men of all time.

In order to understand the reaction, Doherty reminds us to first understand the audience. The people of 1938 were anticipating a German invasion. They were becoming uncomfortably familiar with the sound of breaking news broadcasts, which the Mercury Theater duplicated in detail, including reporters fumbling over words, crackling static, and the buzzes of short-wave radio.

Now-a-days we have Google, which makes it unlikely for an event of this type and magnitude to happen again. But you have to admit, although unintended to cause such chaos, it must be one of the most successful Halloween “pranks” of all time. And in the spirit of Halloween, I leave you with Orson Welles’ final words in the play that horrified a nation:

“So goodbye everybody, and remember the terrible lesson you learned tonight. That grinning, glowing, globular invader of your living room is an inhabitant of the pumpkin patch, and if your doorbell rings and nobody’s there, that was no Martian. . .it’s Hallowe’en.”


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Binge Writers, Unite! NaNoWriMo 2015 is Here

By Jessica Dunkel, Reference DepartmentNaNoLogo

NaNoWriMo. It’s pronounced exactly how it looks – weird. So, what is it? Aspiring writers, fasten your pen caps; this just might be the nudge you need to finish the novel you haven’t even started yet.

What is it?

NaNoWriMo stands for “National Novel Writing Month”. That’s right, MONTH. Participants have 30 days to begin and complete a novel of at least 50,000 words. Writing starts November 1st and ends at 11:59 PM on November 30th.

Wait, why? Some history…

It began in the summer of 1999 when a group of 20-somethings got together for the month of July to write novels. They had no concrete motives, or real experience for that matter. They simply wanted to do something with their time that was different from what everyone else was doing, and so they wrote novels. A quote from one of the founders explains why people across the nation are now dedicating their Novembers to this unique way of writing:

“We had taken the cloistered, agonized novel-writing process and transformed it into something that was half literary marathon and half block party.

We called it noveling. And after the noveling ended on August 1, my sense of what was possible for myself, and those around me, was forever changed. If my friends and I could write passable novels in a month, I knew, anyone could do it.”

Should I Participate?

The short answer is, YES.

Anyone who has ever thought about writing a novel is encouraged to do so, novices and novelists alike. And even if you don’t reach the goal of 50,000 words, you’ll have at least jumpstarted your writing project!

The official NaNoWriMo website allows anyone older than 13 to participate. Teens ages 13 to 17 can participate in their Young Writers Program. (Click here for their website).

2015_nano_calendar___tardis_by_margie22-d98fgllHow does it work?

These steps will get you started. For detailed info, we’ve provided the official NaNoWriMo website below:

  1. Go to http://nanowrimo.org/ and create your profile.
  2. Find an organization near you that will be hosting NaNoWriMo events (yes, Williamson County Library is one of them!). Writing alongside other NaNoWriMo authors gives you inspiration and an uninterrupted timeslot to crank out those beautiful words! Also, there could be free coffee.
  3. Start writing your novel! Writing officially begins on November 1st, but if you have something you’ve already outlined or started to write, there are no rules against continuing your work.

And after I write my novel?

As of November 20th participants can paste their novel to the official NaNoWriMo website. You’ll have the satisfaction of knowing you completed your 50,000 words and you may win some prizes along the way! The NaNoWriMo Non-Profit organization also supports the process of revision and publishing.

Previous writers have gone on to publish their novels themselves or traditionally. Famous NaNoWriMo novels include: Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen, The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern, Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell, Wool by Hugh Howey, The Darwin Elevator by Jason M. Hough, and Cinder, Scarlet, and Cress by Marissa Meyer.

Even if you don’t produce an instant bestseller, you’ll still have written your very own novel in one month!

So sign up, start writing, and don’t forget to join us at the Williamson County Library for our local NaNoWriMo events!NaNoWriMo Books


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Resources for a fun, healthy, and affordable summertime

By Jessica Dunkel, Reference Department

Remember that New Year’s resolution to become healthier? Yeah, me neither. I vividly remember the cold and the layer of blankets that were breached to either turn a book page or re-heat my coffee. Now that summer’s here, it’s the perfect time to get out, get active, and revisit the journey to better health! Getting healthier for those of us on a budget is no easy task, which is why it’s important to get the right support from affordable resources. Check out the links below that will help you feel your best this summer season, including quitting tobacco, nutritional tips, and getting active on a budget.  health

Healthier Living

Need help quitting tobacco use for good?

  • The Tennessee Tobacco QuitLine provides personalized support for Tennesseans who want to quit smoking or chewing tobacco completely free of charge. Call 1-800-QUIT-NOW (1-800-784-8669) and for the hearing-impaired call, 1-877-559-3816.

Looking for information about how to make good nutritional and exercise choices?

  • Get Fit Tennessee provides useful information to help Tennesseans stay active and eat healthfully on a budget. Included are a cookbook with low-calorie, low-cost recipes, a daily online food journal and a calorie calculator, which help users keep eating habits on track. The Health & Fitness Tracker helps you keep log your physical activities and monitor your progress.

 


Summer is also a great time for activities (so many activities!), but it can be hard finding fun things to do, especially on a budget. If you’re having a “I don’t know, what do YOU want to do today?” moment, below are a few links for singles, families, and kids that will get your summer going! Try a trip to one of the many beautiful Tennessee state parks or entertain your kids on those rainy days with some free books and book activity ideas!activities

Affordable Activities

Looking for affordable recreation?

Free books for children under age 5

  • All Tennessee children under age 5 are eligible to receive Imagination Library books through the Governor’s Books from Birth Foundation. The program provides one book per month from birth to the child’s fifth birthday at no cost to the family and regardless of income. For information on how to register a child, call toll-free 1-877-99-BOOKS, or send an e-mail to info@governorsfoundation.org.

Need reading tips and book-specific activities for kids?

All of these resources are a great way to get you started towards better health and a fun-filled summer. If you’re looking for even more free ideas, there are always events going on for all ages right here at your local library! Check out our website’s calendar for the latest info.

 

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