Monday 30 July 2012

Ancestry Library Edition

       "In all of us there is a hunger, marrow-deep, to know our heritage - to know who we are and where we have come from. Without this enriching knowledge, there is a hollow yearning. No matter what our attainments in life, there is still a vacuum. An emptiness. And the most disquieting loneliness." Alex Haley

Have you ever thought about exploring the amazing history of you?  To help you discover your unique story the library is offering this special database to help.

For the next year as a pilot project, Ancestry Library Edition will be offered at 4 of our branches - Windsor, Wolfville, Berwick and Annapolis Royal.  This can be accessed at the branch itself or by wi-fi in the vicinity of the libraries mentioned. Remember to book your computer time if you are going to use it inside the branch.

There are millions of records from the basic Census, Vital Statistics, Court Probate documents to Passenger Lists, Passport Applications, Military Records, Photos and Maps.   Documents cover the U.S., Canada and the UK.  There is also some coverage for Germany, France, Sweden, Italy, Australia and China.  The Canadian collection alone boasts nearly 60 million records which includes the Drouin Collection ( the largest French Canadian family history resource available).

Search tip bookmarks and fact sheets will be available at the branches to help you begin your search.  Make sure to download or print the charts that are offered on the site under Charts and Forms at the top of the homepage. These will help you document the information you find and will come in handy on your next visit.  Come prepared with a little or a lot of information and let Ancestry take you on an incredible journey.

--Patricia Milner, Head of Reference

Monday 23 July 2012

Bubble Summer

I could not think of a better way for a university English major to spend the summer than encouraging the Valley’s youth population to get out in the sun and read! It’s easy to fall into a rut of the “dog days of summer”, doing the same thing every day, staying inside where the air conditioning relieves the beads of sweat on everyone’s foreheads. I was tasked with coming up with four different programs for each age group of the Summer Reading Club.  My favourite activity is Giant Bubble Making, and it has proved itself to be fun for any age! The fun-in-the-sun aspect is what I enjoy most about it. But this activity would reach its full potential with a few kids at a beach where swimming off all that slimy bubble solution is a great way to end the activity. Everything needed for the bubbles is found easily around the house, and can easily be thrown together while at a campground:
12 cups of water
1 cup of Dish detergent (Ivory, Dawn or Cascade worked best for me)
1 cup of cornstarch
2 tbsp of Baking powder

Mix all of this together in a big bucket!

To make the big bubble maker you need:
Four straws of any kind
String (yarn does not work very well)

       * If the straws have a bendy end, take scissors and cut off the bendy part.

        * Take two straws and thread the string through them. The string should be about a foot and a half long (the length determines the size of the bubbles). The best way to get the string through the straw is to put the end of the string into the straw and suck on the other end to draw it through. It comes through very quickly! So make sure there is no choking.

 *     Once two straws are on the string, tie the string together with a knot. 

 * Take the remaining two straws, cut a slit in one end so the straw will fold in on itself. Fit the cut straw into the straw with the string.
You now have a perfect big bubble maker and the best bubble solution possible!

Some of my fondest memories of my childhood involved outdoor games, exploring forests, crafts, and campfires. I hope every child gets to create some of these memories this summer. Exciting play time is always balanced with quiet reading relaxation at any time of the day. Long car rides make filling the Summer Reading booklets easy, especially with an audiobook along for the ride. I feel great knowing that my job involves encouraging kids to develop healthy brains and bodies.  And the only downside? My own hours of reading aren’t going towards an Upper Clements FastPass!

Erin Jardine
Summer Reading Club Assistant

Monday 16 July 2012

Free Software: PICASA

Picasa is a Google software product that is FREE.

The Picasa software provides a simple way to view, edit, and organize photos on your computer.  There are two great features about Picasa that are worth identifying:

  1.  Picasa does not store the photos on your computer.  You download the software.  When you open Picasa, it simply displays a copy of the photos it finds on your computer.  It displays them based on what types of files you specify when asked and where you suggest it looks.
  2. Your original photos are always preserved.  When using the great selection of editing tools in Picasa, your original files are never touched.  The photo edits you make are only viewable in Picasa until you decide to save the changes.  When the edited photos are saved, it is a new version of your photo that is saved, leaving the original unchanged.

I really like the editing features that allow you to crop, straighten, fix redeye, add text, retouch, sharpen, tint, change to black & white or Sepia and many, many more.  One of the 24 new features is side by side editing, allowing you to view the edited and original versions side by side. 

Go beyond editing and share your photos online and then add the email addresses of those you want to view your newly created album.  They'll receive an email invitation to view your photos.

This is worth a try.   Did I mention, it's FREE?

Use this link to get your copy today!

Charlotte Janes,
Head of Systems and Administration

Sunday 15 July 2012

What is YA? Booktalk Books (in a bag!)

Picture this: you and your friends all read the same book (maybe by the pool this summer?). Then you get together and talk about it. Talking about books is an activity that some people really, really enjoy.  We've made it easy for teens (and adults, too, but that is another post) to host their own book club with our YA BookTalkBooks (in a bag!).  Not only do we supply you with 8 copies of the book that you can borrow for 6 weeks, but we have also included some suggested discussion topics. I know, this sounds a bit like school, so why should you read these books (and talk about them)?  Here's why. 

The Book Thief by Marcus Zusak is one of the most intriguing books to come along in a while. It is narrated by Death. Yes, the Grim Reaper is the narrator, and he has become fascinated by a young girl named Liesel who is sent to a small German town to ride out World War 2. She learns a lot from the books she steals, and learns even more about people, as does Death. There's plenty to discuss in this book, but the main reason to read it is because it is one of those books that just sucks you right in and keeps you there.

For something a little lighter, there's Pretty Little Liars by Sara Shephard. Yeah, there's a TV show based on these books, but maybe you'd be interested to read where it all started. These are some of the snarkiest, most shallow girls around, but there's more to them than that. And the surrounding mystery  is just dark enough to keep those pages turning. 

For those who like graphic novels, we have American Born Chinese by Gene Luen Yang. Three stories in one combine for a powerful and funny look at growing up as the different guy in town. This award-winning book is bound to keep you entertained this summer. 

The perfect summer book is 13 Little Blue Envelopes by Maureen Johnson. When Ginny receives a blue envelope, some cash, and instructions to buy a plane ticket to London, she's not sure what is going to happen. Ginny has the adventure of her life and learns a bit along the way. What would you do in her situation? 

So what are you waiting for? Time to start that Book Club you've always dreamed of…. And if you want to do a Mother-Daughter or Father-Son Book Club, these books are ok for Moms & Dads to read, too. 

WHAT IS YA? Will be a monthly feature, published on the 15th of each month, written by Angle Reynolds, our Head of Youth Services.  We are giving away YA books to go along with it! Make a comment below about one of the books we talked about, and you’ll be entered into a monthly draw for a YA review copy. Must be able to pick the book up at one of our branch libraries; no books will be shipped or mailed.

Monday 9 July 2012

The Well Travelled Book Lover

If you're like me, you always have to have something to read. This can become problematic while on vacation. You might need a book to read on the plane as well as a back-up in case you don't like the book you brought. With carry-on restrictions and the attempt to "travel light", it's sometimes a challenge for bibliophiles to keep up with their reading while on holiday.

eBooks to the rescue!  I took four books with me on holiday last summer to the U.K. and they all fit in my purse. My eReader can stay charged for up to three weeks and I'm good to go. Finding books for my eReader is quick and easy using the library's Overdrive software.  Just search the catalogue, download, and transfer to a device. If what you are looking for isn't available, you can place it on hold just like a regular book. When it's available you get an email telling you so.  Best of all, it's free so I can save my money while dreaming of other places to travel to.

Not into eBooks?  Try downloading an audiobook through Overdrive for your iPod or MP3 player and relax while listening to a book. There's nothing better to make a long flight go faster than a good book no matter what the format.

Frances Newman, Regional Librarian

Monday 2 July 2012

Summer Reading - Life's a Beach

Ahh's finally here.  Your vacation is coming up and yes, you might have time to read a book!

While some of us will actually head to the beach or cottage as our retreat, others may visit relatives, travel, or enjoy a staycation in their own backyard.  Picture digging your toes into the ocean sand, morning swims at the lake, getting to be a kid again by visiting your parents, or the ultimate hammock nap at home.

Whatever you choose to do try to fit in some reading.  In this age of pressure and stress the simple act of reading is sure to bring down the blood pressure.  While summer might not be the best time to tackle War and Peace there are plenty of good reads out there waiting for you.

Paperbacks abound, a lightweight choice that can be taken anywhere.  Alternatively, load up your e-reader or mp3 player as an even more portable option.  For the vacationer that has to have a project in the works the library can offer "how to" books on everything from a water feature for your yard or building a new deck, to updating the kitchen or bathroom.

So what makes a good summer read?  The classic definition seems to be something light, preferably funny and won't keep you up at night pondering the state of the world.   Some others feel like this is a chance to get into something a little more substantial because you have the time to become immersed in a book . Whatever your preference come and visit your library branch or website.  I am sure we can find something that will fit in with your vacation plans.

I think my pick for this summer is going to be Just After Sunset by Stephen King.  This has been on my 'to read' list for awhile now so it's time it moved over to the 'read' side.

Need some suggestions?  Check out this link.

--Patricia Milner, Head of Reference Services