Monday, 28 January 2013

Interlibrary Loans

We're quickly approaching the end of January and I'm wondering how people are doing with their New Year resolutions.   If your desire was to read more books, the library is the perfect place to help you reach that goal.  Maybe you've already visited your local library and they didn't have the book you were looking for.  Perhaps you were able to request it from one of the other branch libraries in our system.  Loan requests between branch libraries are fairly simple and are usually filled promptly. 

But what if our library system doesn't own the book at all?  Then what?  That's when you need the Reference department working on your behalf.   We can offer you the wonderful world of Interlibrary Loans (ILL).   The ILL service enables you to borrow books from libraries outside of the Annapolis Valley Regional Library system.  These books are often owned by other regional libraries in Nova Scotia.

Once you submit your ILL request, either at a branch or via our website, we will search high and low for the book you wish to read.   We will start by searching the 8 other regional library systems in the province.  If the book is not found, then we will expand our search to include academic libraries within the province.  We don't have to stop there either.  If you wish, we can search public and academic libraries across the country.  

Many libraries in Canada participate in and support Interlibrary Loans because it's a simple and cost-effective way to share resources among libraries and with the public.  This service is offered at no cost to you.  All you need is your library card and the doors are opened for you. 
When a book is borrowed through ILL, we are obliged to abide by the policies of the lending library, and to pass those stipulations onto you, the borrower.   Often, books may be borrowed for 2-3 weeks and sometimes renewals are possible.  Occasionally a book may be owned only by a library that charges a borrowing fee.  But don't worry, we will always check with you first to see if you are willing to pay any associated charges.

ILL requests are considerably more time consuming than branch to branch requests.  The average wait time can be anywhere from 6-10 weeks.  It all depends on the volume of requests and the availability at lending libraries.  We set a record in 2012, requesting more than 7000 items for our borrowers through Interlibrary Loan.  That's an increase of over 1000 items from the previous year.

We are known for, and proud of, our dogged determination in getting you the books that you want and need.   So please don't hesitate to give us a try and put our Interlibrary Loan service to work for you.  

-Pam Ellis,
Interlibrary Loans Queen

Monday, 21 January 2013

Every Day is Family Literacy Day @your library!

January 27 is Family Literacy Day.  Family Literacy Day is a national awareness initiative created by ABC Life Literacy Canada in 1999 and held annually on January 27 to raise awareness of the importance of reading and engaging in other literacy-related activities as a family.  This year the theme is "15 Minutes of Fun" - - a reminder to take at least 15 minutes a day to read together.  Literacy isn't just reading together, though. Literacy can be found – and practised- in so many other ways.  Play a board game together – most games involve some reading! Make dinner together, using a new recipe. Create  a grocery list. All involve reading!   

Here are some other fun ideas to help with your own Family Literacy Day celebrations:
1.     Create your own comic strip about your family.
2.     Invent two new endings to your favourite book.
3.     Make up a new recipe together and post it online.
4.     Tell knock-knock jokes together while doing the dishes.
5.     Sing five songs really, really loud!
6.      Invent a new game while playing at the park.
7.      Read a story to your pet (or favourite toy).
8.     Make a paper fortune teller with eight fortunes.
9.      Write a silly poem and tell it to your family at dinner.
10.  Log on to your favourite word game - can you beat your best score?
11.  Create your family tree.
12.  Play rhyming "I Spy" - "I spy something that rhymes with..."
13.   Play a board game together.
14.  Text your friend and tell them about your holiday.
15.   Find 15 things that begin with the letter "S".

January 27 falls on a Sunday, but some of our libraries will be hosting Family Literacy Day events earlier in the week. On Friday, January 25, the Berwick Library has stories and crafts, and in Hantsport the Friends group has put together a flyer to send home with all Hantsport and L.E Shaw school students encouraging families to participate in 15 Minutes of Fun literacy activities. Families who complete 4 activities are eligible to enter a prize draw for a $25 gift certificate from Box of Delights bookstore in Wolfville. 

Year-round, we celebrate Family Literacy by offering storytimes, LEGO and board game programs, our annual Summer Reading Club, book discussion groups, computer tutorials, and more.  So plan your own Family Literacy Day at home, and come see us any time for a Family Literacy outing.  

Monday, 14 January 2013

Are antivirus programs necessary on tablets?

Q: I received a tablet for Christmas.  Do I need to install an Antivirus program like I have on my PC?

The answer depends on the tablet operating system (OS); basically what kind of tablet do you have, Android or Apple. No matter which system you have, the first and best defense against any attack is common sense.

Do research on any app you want to install, read the reviews, are there other apps that do the same thing but have a higher rating.

Only install apps from the official app store, it is possible to jailbreak and freely install apps that normally cost money but you also run the risk that the app has been modified to steal personal information or worse.

Apple tablets and phones are generally considered to be very secure. The operating system (iOS) is designed to take advantage of a closed system where Apple is the gatekeeper and determines what applications can be used on the tablet.  Apple has also built a lot of security into iOS as it has been updated.  If your tablet is ever stolen or misplaced you can track it using iTunes and remotely wipe it so no personal information is left. 

Android is built on a more open system that allows you to customize it to suit your taste. While the platform is also built with a lot of integrated security, the fact that you are able to personalize your tablet more than iOS may be exploited to allow malware to run on your system.  There are many security apps in the Google Play Store that offer a range of protection features including the ability to scan for malware, locate the tablet, backup information and even remotely wipe any personal information. 

The vast majority of malware is focused on stealing your information.  It is certainly dangerous but it’s also like a vampire – you have to invite it into your home, or onto your tablet.  It doesn't spread by itself and if you are sensible, you can avoid it without antivirus software.  You may however be interested in the other components that are packaged with the app.  Backups are always good to do and an app that allows you to locate your tablet is handy no matter if it is stolen or left at your mother's after a Sunday get together.
Jay Stirling,
Systems Administrator

Monday, 7 January 2013

Apps for Kids

Many people have a mobile device, and many let their children use apps on these devices. There's nothing wrong with that, but establishing some good habits around digital media use is a good idea. While an app will NOT teach your child to read, interaction between yourself, your child, and your iPad can certainly help your child develop the skills they need in order to learn to read. An iPad, iPhone or other device is not the best choice for a bedtime story either, as some studies are suggesting that the blue light from computer devices of any sort before bedtime can disrupt sleep patterns (and not just for kids, for adults, too!) So when is the best time, and how should we be sharing apps with young children? And how do you find the best ones to share? Look for some hands-on classes at your library this winter and spring, but until then, here are a few tips to get you started!

First off, spend time with your young child as they play with apps. Just like with TV, use of tablets or phones should be limited for children under 5, and children under 2 should have very little exposure. Talk about what is happening in the app, what you can do, read together, play together, ask questions and talk with your child. 

How do you find the best apps to use? And how do you decide which ones are worth the money? There are lots of free apps, but as with anything free, quality is often an issue. I like to follow The iMums on Twittter and Facebook to get deals on apps and also free ones.    There's also Digital Storytime , which has a bank of reviews, sortable by age, price, quality, and more. A nice list of resources can be found here

I've been testing some apps, and I do very brief reviews on my Pinterest board called, you guessed it, Apps for Kids. Mostly I look for apps that are low-cost or free, educational yet fun, book-related, or ones that can help develop early literacy skills such as drawing, storytelling, and vocabulary. I especially like apps that take good children's books and make them even more fun, such as Good Night Moon, The Three Little Pigs, or the Sandra Boynton books. So take a look at some of these resources, and have fun exploring the digital early literacy world with your young child! 

Angela Reynolds, Head of Youth Services