Tuesday, November 26, 2013

#ThankTheBook: The Books That Made Us Readers

We're pretty active on Twitter over here at MCL and this week, we've been excitedly watching Penguin Publishing's Thanksgiving/reading-appreciation contest, #ThankTheBook. It's so inspiring to see the worldwide community of readers share their love of literature by showing gratitude to the book that got them hooked. Can you remember which book made you fall in love with reading? Speak up--we want to know! Better yet, if the author is alive and active on Twitter, find them and share your enthusiasm. Authors are always grateful to hear how their stories have shaped the lives of their readers and many authors are happy to respond with a quick retweet or reply.
In the spirit of Thanksgiving, a few MCL staff members have shared their beloved books, the ones that turned them into lifelong readers.

Jane D., Youth Services Librarian:
Mr. Popper's Penguins by Richard Atwater.
The Faraway Lurs by Harry Behn. (Available exclusively through Interlibrary Loan)
Abby B., Reference Librarian:
Little Women by Louisa May Alcott.
Little House in the Big Woods by Laura Ingalls Wilder.
The True Confessions of Charlotte Doyle by Avi.
Ann C., Circulation Supervisor:
The entire Trixie Belden series by Julie Campbell.
Chris S., Adult Services Librarian:
The Wrong Stuff by Bill "Spaceman" Lee.
On the Road by Jack Kerouac.
Ann L., Director:
The Witch of Blackbird Pond by Elizabeth George Speare.
The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett.

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Baby, It's Cold Outside! Winterizing Tips

It's a fact of life in Wisconsin: as the temperature drops, our heating bills rise (and stay plenty high for a good half of the year!). Winterizing your home is a simple way to keep heating costs manageable while also keeping you warmer and cozier. Some big ways you can impact your home's heat efficiency are also expensive: replacing old windows and doors, and insulating homes built before WWII. We're going to ignore those and focus on low-cost and DIY alternatives that may seem small, but can make a welcome impact.

1. Draft dodgers for your doors and windows:
Photo credit: A Little House in the City Blog
You can purchase these through online crafters via Etsy, on large retail sites, and in stores, but you can also DIY for fairly cheap. Blog tutorials abound on how to create draft dodgers; all you need are the materials to do it and basic sewing skills. Some (like A Little House in the City) use rice as filler while others use beans, dry popcorn, or quilt batting.

2. Pick up a window insulation kit, caulk, and weatherstripping.

If you're not in the market for replacing your windows, then these three things will help make them as efficient as possible for keeping warm air in and cold air out.

3. Switch your ceiling fans to "reverse."
Photo Credit: Look Up/Hunter Fan Company
This may sound silly, but if your ceiling fans have a reverse switch, use it! The clockwise motion of a ceiling fan on a low setting forces cool air up and warm air (which sits along the ceiling, because heat rises) down.

4. A little insulation in the right places goes a long way.

If you have a house built before WWII, you might not have insulation. In these cases, even if you can't afford to insulate your entire house, consider hitting the "easy" places: the attic floor and the basement ceiling. Up to 25% of heat loss occurs through the roof and 15% of your heat goes into the ground. Insulation can greatly reduce those numbers.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Catalog Search Tips: Advanced Search Basics

When you have a very specific information need, finding inadequate search results can be frustrating to say the least. Imagine you want to find mystery fiction audiobooks, but you really only want the books on playaway, not CDs or cassette tapes. If you search for "mystery fiction" and limit the results to sound recordings, you'll get EVERYTHING and have to pick through all the results for playaways. If you work in the opposite direction and search for "playaways" similar troubles arise. Today we'll show you an awesome, useful search function: Advanced Search!

It's tucked away, but with a simple click, you can find it. On the top navigation bar of the CAFE catalog, click "Search." You'll get a dropdown menu with many options, the fifth being "Advanced."
The Advanced Search option basically does a Boolean search without you having to remember to use AND, OR, or NOT. Click on "Advanced" to get the appropriate screen.
We're going to use the example we discussed above to illustrate how to use the Advanced Search function. Our search is just a template, really; you can plug in your own keywords once you understand the basics.

1. Plug "Mystery fiction" into the first search field. Plug "playaway" into the second search field. Don't worry about changing "Any Field" to one of the presented options; you'll probably get more results searching in "Any Field."

2. Reap the rewards! We came up with 447 results for mystery fiction playaways, which can be limited by audience as discussed in our previous tutorial. Instead of sifting through the 6,931 mystery fiction general audiobooks to find playaways, you get what you're really looking for, faster.

Play around with it and see how helpful it can be. Use the supplemental "Limit by:" dropdown box for added customization. For instance, you could enter "climate change" in the first field and then limit by "DVD" to find all the global warming movies available at the libraries in our system. The possibilities are exciting, and you'll be searching like a librarian in no time!

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Catalog Search Tips: Quick Library Search Basics

People say to us all the time, "I just searched for that and came up with nothing! How did you find it?!?" The simple answer is that we do this all the time, but that doesn't mean that you can't learn to search just as effectively as us. We're starting a series of search tips based on actual queries, but before we dig in too deep, let's cover some basics of searching the catalog.

1. If you just want to see what is in OUR library, use the top dropdown box to select "Mukwonago Community Library."
 If you want to see what is in EVERY library, you can search this CAFE page (referred to in the dropdown menu as "CAFE--All Libraries").

2. If you're searching for a known author, type his/her name like this: Last Name, First Name. Usually, a dropdown pops up and you can select the appropriate author. This will give you the greatest number of results.

3. If you're searching for a known title, just type it in and hit enter. If you decide, upon seeing the results, that you want an audiobook instead of a print book, use the left-hand navigation to limit your selection. In this specific case, you would want to select "Nonmusical Sound Recording."

4. Use that left-hand navigation liberally, especially when you're searching a subject (like our example below, "deer"). You can limit by so many facets, but the ones we use most often are Type of Material, Target Audience, Library, and Literary Form.

Friday, November 1, 2013

November is National Novel Writing Month!

National Novel Writing Month (or NaNoWriMo to those in the know) is upon us! If you've ever thought to yourself, "Man, I really ought to find time to write that novel," this is the month to do it. Things you ought to know before you get started:

  • All participants are encouraged to write 1,667 words a day, which generally fits into about an hour. 
  • You can write more than that though, as it's best to be ahead in case you miss or have a slow day.
  • At the end of each writing session, upload your entire writing piece into NaNoWriMo's word counter.
  • Connect with the local community or personal friends who are also working on their novels. Encouragement is the best.

Sign up for free on NaNoWriMo.org to track your progress through an amazing 50,000 word odyssey. We'll be posting our progress throughout the month, so keep us updated on yours, too!