The Learning Express Library is a database dedicated to providing learning tools for people of all ages (ranging from kids in school to adults looking to start a new career, to those looking to become U.S. Citizens) and starts off in a great way. There is a 16 minute video providing an overview of all the tools Learning Express offers. It is also broken down into smaller units for those that only need a quick review on specific sections. The smaller units include: library homepage, registering as a new user, logging in, the about centers,
Each center has a number of different topics to choose from and those topics are further broken down into sub-sections for a quicker find to the areas needed. There are a few important notes to remember: your login will be your library account number, and the Computer Skills Center is ONLY available to those with an account and are signed in. The guidance section for each center is a wonderful starting point to learn about the section.
The Adult Learning Center has four topics to choose from. These topics are building math skills, learning skills to become a better reader, becoming a better writer, speaking while also improving grammar, and a topic for helping to prepare to become an U.S. Citizen. Each topic in this center (except preparing for the U.S. Citizenship test) provides practice sections and eBooks for use, and some topics also provide quizzes and test preparation sections. What is great in the U.S. Citizenship topic is that there are sections for preparing for the exam, how to get a Green Card, and a section that provides the two previously mentioned sections in Spanish. There is also a Spanish Center that has five topics. These five topics are writing, literature/reading, math, GED prep, and a Citizenship Preparation area.
The Career Center has a total of six topics. The topics are learning more about different careers (such as green careers, homeland security, fire fighters, nurse, teacher and more), preparing for the Allied Health programs entrance exams, preparation for 16 different occupation exams, information to join the military or become an Officer, improving job search and skills to use in the workplace, and preparation for “WorkKeys Assessments and TOEIC.” The tools used for this center are eBooks and practice exams.
The High School Equivalency Center also has six topics. This center is set up wonderfully. The first two topic areas are a great place to start if you need to figure out where your basic skills (math, language, reading and spelling) stand along with tutorials, practice areas and eBooks to help you improve your skills as needed. There are two sections dedicated to the GED (English and Spanish sections). The last two topics focus on preparing for the HiSET test and the TASC Test Assessing Secondary completion. These two topics have practice tests and a tutorial each.
The College Prep Center has six topics. Three of the topics focus on the ACT, THEA, and SAT. In these three topic areas you will find tutorials, practice exercises, and practice tests. PSAT/NMSQT is another topic that has practice tests and eBooks available for use. There is also a topic called “College Admissions Essay Writing” that provides two eBooks: one on editing skills and the other on how to write a great application. The final topic in this center is AP Exams, with practice exams for the most common AP courses.
College Center has seven topics. Topics cover math, reading, grammar and writing, and a science review topic that uses tutorials, eBooks, and practice sets. The math topic covers eight of the most common math courses offered in college. The science topic only offers chemistry and biology review sections. This center also includes preparing for college placement exams (four prep areas) as well as the CLEP exam. Also to be found are practice tests and eBooks for graduate entrance exams. These exams include the GMAT, GRE, LSAT, MAT, MCAT and PCAT.
School Center has three topic areas. The first topic area focuses on Elementary school with math and language arts improvement sections that is geared towards 4th and 5th graders. The second topic focuses on Middle School curriculum in math (6th-8th grade) and English Language Arts (6th-8th grade), eBooks, and other review techniques are available. The topic of social studies is also covered with a section on American History (the U.S. Constitution) and geography through the use of eBooks. The final section is a preparation area for the High School Entrance Exams. The third topic focuses on High School with a total of five sections. These sections contain a further breakdown of each section along with tutorial and eBook sections for use.
The Computer Skills center has five topics to choose from and starts with the most basic computer skills then moves to learning how to use the internet and all it has to offer. The next topic is learning about and how to successfully use the Microsoft Office products, such as MS Word, Excel, PowerPoint and more. There is also a topic that covers graphic design by using Adobe Illustrator and Photoshop. The final topic is about understanding how your operating system works. You can choose from Windows (several versions are available) and the MAC operating system.
There you have it, a look into the Learning Express Library and the contents it has to offer for patrons of nearly all ages. Best of luck!
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 Lisa Lombard, Reference Department
This is a non-fiction book primarily set in the Dominican Republic. Kurson has written about John Chatterton and John Mattera and and the true story of their search for a legendary pirate ship, the Golden Fleece. This book takes you on an adventure to find the Golden Fleece, where you not only search the waters for the wreckage but learn about the history of pirates during the late 1600’s. You learn about Joseph Bannister, the captain of the Golden Fleece, as well as the hardships that plague hunters looking for a ship with virtually no documentation of where it was supposed to have sunk.
I really enjoyed this book which surprised me because I normally do not read non-fiction books but this story was a page turner. It was full of adventure, mystery, history and pirate stories that move along at a great pace. I even found the background chapters on Chatterton and Mattera to be interesting as they told of each man’s youth and how they came to be underwater treasure hunters/ship hunters. I found myself feeling the same frustrations and joys with Chatterton and Mattera which I greatly enjoyed. To me, that makes any story good or in this case, a great story! I would highly recommend this book if you are looking for an exciting adventure without having to leave the comfort of your home.
By Lisa Lombard, Reference Department
You read it correctly; July is National Ice-Cream Month! In addition to celebrating the Fourth of July, we have a month long celebration of ice-cream! Does that not sound awesome? Who does not love an excuse to eat ice-cream (or anything you normally would not have)? On those days when you don’t want to leave the house, want an extra special treat for a birthday party, the Fourth of July, a bar-b-q, or any other type of party homemade ice-cream will be a crowd pleaser! The two following recipes are for vanilla ice-cream, to keep it simple especially if this is your first time making homemade ice-cream. The first recipe you will need an electric ice-cream maker and the second recipe is one sure to get family and friends involved (or a good arm workout for yourself!) and does not require any type of electricity, just good ole fashioned elbow grease! Happy ice-cream making and enjoy the scrumptious summertime treat!
Recipe #1 (This is a Paula Dean Recipe from the FoodNetwork)
Total Time: 3 hr 10 min Prep: 10 min Inactive: 3 hr
Yield: approximately 1 gallon
- 4 eggs
- 2 cups white sugar
- 2 (12-ounce) cans evaporated milk
- 1 (14-ounce) can sweetened condensed milk
- 1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
- Whole milk
- With an electric mixer, cream eggs and sugar. Add evaporated milk, condensed milk, and vanilla. Beat well.
- Pour into an electric ice cream churn. Add whole milk to fill line. Insert dasher.
- Pack cooler 1/3 full with ice. Add a layer of rock salt. Repeat layering with ice and salt until full. Note: be careful not to overfill, spilling salt into the churn.
- When machine starts to labor or shut off, remove the dasher and drain water. Fill with more ice and salt.
- Cover with a towel and let harden.
Recipe #2 (This recipe was found at the blog, 2 little hooligans)
Ingredients and supplies:
- 2 TBL sugar
- 1 cup half & half (or light cream)
- 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
- 1/2 cup coarse salt or table salt
- gallon-sized Ziploc bag
- pint-sized Ziploc bag
- Mix the sugar, half & half and vanilla extract together. Pour into a pint-sized Ziploc baggie. Make sure it seals tightly.
- Now take the gallon-sized Ziploc bag and fill it up halfway with ice and pour the salt over the ice. Now place the cream filled bag into the ice filled bag and seal.
- Make sure it is sealed tightly and start shaking. Shake for about 5 minutes (or 8 minutes if you use heavy cream).
- Open the gallon-sized bag and check to see if the ice cream is hard, if not keep shaking. Once the ice cream is finished, quickly run the closed pint-sized baggie under cold water to quickly clean the salt off the baggie. You are now ready to dig in and enjoy!
There you have it, two ways to make homemade ice-cream in celebration of National Ice-Cream month! Do not forget to keep some fun and tasty toppings on hand for those who want to jazz up their classic vanilla ice-cream, enjoy!