Sharing new ideas, resources, knowledge and technology to keep abreast of new development in reference service field

Friday, December 28, 2007

New Year Greetings

I recently received a mailing from the organization responsible for collecting and maintaining the papers of Emma Goldman, radical political figure, who operated an ice cream parlor in Worcester in the early 1890s. In it they included the following quote:

" I wish you more for the New Year than words can express, Peace of mind and rest of your body, supreme satisfaction in your personal life, and in your work. Much joy and some happyness snatched from a mad and bloodthirsty world".

Emma Goldman, 1939

Misspellings and bad punctuation notwithstanding, these words are as appropriate today as they were in 1939.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Workforce Central Career Centers

When I was in my early twenties (a long time ago) and I lost my job, I walked into the nearest unemployment office and filed a claim. I could also get some leads on potential jobs from the folks who worked there or I could strike out on my own to find a job. Every two weeks I brought back proof to the unemployment office that I was actively seeking employement in order to receive my check. Things have changed! First, the unemployment office is now called a Career Center. Second, while you can still walk into a Career Center to file a claim the government strongly encourages the newly unemployed to file a claim by phone.
File by phone
Call the TeleClaim Center at 1-877-626-6800 if you are calling from the following area codes: 351, 413, 508, 774, and 978.
Call the TeleClaim Center at 617-626-6800 if you are calling from any other area code.

Career Centers now focus mainly on connecting employers with job seekers. Before we list the resources available at a Career Center it's important to know where the Career Centers are located and the cities and towns that are serviced by the individual centers. The Office of Labor has a directory of the Career Centers closest to you with an overview of services, hours and contact information. I have taken a tour of the Worcester Career Center and I'm hoping that there is uniformity throughout the state. In any event, the only requirement for those wishing to use the resources at a Career Center is attendance at a one hour orientation. They have tried to make this as painless as possible by scheduling two orientations each day Monday through Thursday. Once you have completed the orientation here are some of the services and resources available:

  • Use of their computers for two hours each day.
  • A weekly job list of vacancies and salaries.
  • In-house use of a software database called EmployOn which promises to be the largest jobs database in the industry.
  • One on one job matching with a Career Center staff person.
  • The possibility of a $5000 training grant (must meet eligibility requirements).
  • These are some of the free workshops:
    -Resume writing taught by certified resume writers.
    -An introduction to the personal computer.
    -Interviewing techniques.
    -Job searching on the Internet.
    -Myers Briggs testing of personality type.
    -Mock interviews.
    -CORI issues and job searching.
    -Networking how to.

Fee based service:
For a $40 fee there are self-paced and computer based software training services that require 16-24 hours to complete: Outlook 2000; Word 2000; Access; Power Point 2000; and Excel 2000.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Savy Seniors

Seniors are the fastest growing segment of computer users. Those over sixty have become, or are becoming, very computer savy. The want to make the best use of the computers they are purchasing. More importantly, they want to use their time wisely in searching the most relevant and timely websites.
Visit The Worcester Public Library website at Click on web resources on the left hand side of the page. Then click on the heading"Seniors." What you will discover is the result of a program that was given at the library to provide librarians ideas in serving this population. Topics of importance, agencies, hands-on-tutorials, and some fun sites are listed. By bookmarking this page, it is easy to scroll and quickly pick a topic of concern or interest. Browsing may also prove helpful. We hope that your patrons will find these sites well-organized and useful in assisting those of any age.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Read the NYT and PW Book Review on the Regional Reference Blog for Free

Free NYT and PW RSS feeds have been added to the Regional Reference Blog. You will be able to read the latest book reviews, daily book news, find bestseller lists and preview first chapters of new books. Just visit Regional Reference Blog at

Worcester First Night 2008

If your patrons ask for information about Worcester First Night, please point them to When you are there, click on General Info, you will find info on where to buy a button, events map and schedule, and more.
Note: It appears on the map the Worcester Public Library is an event site in the area. However, the YWCA is the site.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

How to Use WPL's "Member E-resource Card"

All CMRLS member public and school libraries*, have received or will soon be receiving a Worcester Public Library "Member E-Resource Card."

Each library has been given one card, which is intended to support librarians as they help their patrons find information. These cards are single-user cards because Worcester Public Library's database licenses do not permit multiple off-site usages. We hope you will find the resources in these databases valuable as you assist your patrons, and we appreciate your support in using them as they were intended. Unfortunately, misuse of these cards could result in the loss of the databases if use exceeds the license.

Worcester Public Library also provides other reference support services for member libraries' staff and patrons.

  • A toll free number (1-800-562-0080) is available to librarians all the hours that our library is open.
  • Worcester Public's Reference Librarians staff the MassAnswers 24/7 Virtual Reference service to provide your patrons with round-the-clock access to professional librarians who can answer their questions.
  • We provide e-mail reference for your patrons' more in-depth questions, especially those involving local history or genealogy.

All these services are provided to you, your library and your patrons, through our role as your Regional Reference Center.

*Other CMRLS Member Libraries are welcome to apply for a card if they feel the databases will support their work. Please e-mail to request a card. Cards are sent care of the Head Librarian of each institution.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Online Workshops through Simmons

Professional Education News from Library School
Friday, November 9, 2007

Online Workshops through Simmons
For those who are interested, Simmons College offers a variety of online workshops. While we all know that the drive from Worcester to Boston is time consuming (especially when it's snowing) online courses allow the individual to learn from the comfort of their own home or local library. Here are a few courses that are currently being offered online: Introduction to Virtualization and Linux Administration, Reference Collection Development on the Web, Beyond Booklists & Book Discussions for Youth: Shifting Formats and Multiple Venues , We Live Online: Exploring Virtual Communities , and The Read/Write Web: Social Software and Libraries. There are many more listed on Simmons website at

An additional benefit for those Simmons Alumni out there (and I know that there are many of you) is that you receive a voucher worth $20 applicable toward the cost of another GSLISCE workshop. And if you are a current GSLIS student, you receive 50% off any online course.

Please feel free to email me at if you would like any more information on these workshops.

Friday, November 09, 2007

Some holiday questions

When do you start displaying your books for the December holidays? I usually start the day after Thanksgiving. Do you think I' m jumping the gun or being too slow.

The other problem I have is coverage. I have plenty on the religious and secular aspects of Christmas; enough on Hanukkah especially when I add in some Jewish cookbooks and craft books. Worcester Public Library has a handful of books on Kwanzaa and even a couple on observing the Winter Solstice; but after that I have a problem. Does anyone know of any in print books on other religions' holidays. It doesn't have to be just winter holidays; something covering a year of holidays would be fine. Ideally I would like books with bright covers inexpensive enough that I could buy multiple copies ( I know I' asking for a lot; but I'll settle for less.) Also does anyone know of anything on winter carnivals or snow festivals?

Worcester Data Records

The Office of the City Clerk of Worcester has made some data record searches available online. It is for some birth dates, marriage dates, death dates, business certificates and dog licenses.

Go to the City of Worcester homepage and click on "City Clerk" on the left. Then click on "Data Records Search."

Birth Records Search has dates for any birth that occurred within the city limits of Worcester, MA between 1899 and the present time. Enter only the first and last name. It will not work if you put in a middle initial. If there is more than one person with that name it will list their full names to make it easier to find your person.

Marriage Record Search will show dates of marriages that took place on an intention of Marriage filed at Worcester City Hall since February, 1980. You only need one person's name, but read the instructions because which name in which field makes a difference.

Death Records Search will get dates for any person whose death occurred within the city limits of Worcester, MA and for any Worcester resident who passed away in any other Massachusetts community between 1978 and the present. Only last name and first name needed.

Business Certificate Record Search is for any active DBA.

Dog License Record Search is for any active dog license. You may search with license number, street name and house number, or owner's last name.

This may come in handy when patrons are doing genealogy or want an obituary but do not have exact date of death.

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

U.S. Government Documents Online

Worcester Public Library is entering into our OPAC, catalog records for U.S. government documents that are available online. This makes these documents easier to access. For example, if you were looking for the document on city planning, This Is Smart Growth, you can find it in the OPAC by its title; or subject headings (City planning-United States; Urban policy-United States; or Urbanization-United States). You can then access the full document online by clicking on the “Connect to” block. This is one of many documents that are available only online. There are also documents that are available in both tangible and electronic formats. So that, although the Worcester library receives the statistical document Crime in the United States, when you find the record for it in the computer it will have a link to the online version as well and you can obtain all the data without having to come to Worcester to use the paper copies. Not all documents, however, are available in an online version so you will still find many in the catalog that have only the tangible item in our collection.

Monday, November 05, 2007

Audiobook collection at WPL

The Worcester Public Library's audiobook collection contains audiobooks on cd, cassette and playaways. As we all know, library materials with more than one piece can be a problem, especially with cds and cassettes. If you see that an audiobook is in "repair" status, please do not place a hold on it because it is not a guarantee that the broken cd or cassette will be replaced. Some titles we are not able to order replacements for or the condition of the title as a whole does not warrant replacing one part. In addition, I am sure it is helpful to all who are in charge of audiobooks if the patron tells us which cd or cassette is not working, write it down and put it on the cover of the case to let us know what the problem is. Some problems are not always visible.

Let's encourage patrons to use audiobooks while doing activities other than just driving or exercising. I enjoy them while doing housework, cooking, baking, knitting, sewing,and some nights I am just too tired to hold a book so I sit and listen while I pet the cats. I am sure I am not the only one with more than one pet who wants attention and audiobooks are a great way to free up both hands to pet two animals. Are there parents who say they are going on a long car trip? Encourage them to try audiobooks with their children in the car. It is an activity everyone can participate in. I have revisited some terrific titles that way and enjoyed some new childrens books as well. My son enjoys them so much he will often stay in the car listening while I get the mail- and then requests that we bring it inside to listen. For younger new listeners suggest a title that has been made into a movie that the child may have seen and will be familiar with, or a book that they may have had read to them that they enjoyed.

As we encourage patrons to listen more, let's also encourage them to handle audiobooks with care. It is extremely frustrating to have a disc or cassette not work when you are well into the book. Happy Listening!

E-mail Reference at WPL

Our email reference service is available to everyone. There is a link from this blog on the right hand side, just click on "email reference." There is also a link from the Worcester Public Library homepage This service is for reference questions. If there are questions about circulation or interlibrary loan, the questions should be called in or emailed to circulation. This will ensure that you get an answer in a more timely manner. If you are unsure of where to direct your question you can call us or go ahead and email us and we will pass it on to the right person.

In addition, if you or your patron needs an answer within hours, the question should be called in rather than emailed since our librarians are assigned other duties as well each day and may not be able to check the email for a few hours at a time. We do try to answer the emails as quickly as possible, but sometimes it may take a few days before we are able to gather information requested due to our work schedules. This is especially true for obituary requests and periodical articles.

Please advise patrons to read the request page completely for guidelines on how many requests may be sent at once and what information is required from them. They need to fill out the request form completely each and every time they place a request. This gives us the information we need to respond quickly to the requests without trying to look through older emails or ask the patron to email us with the information. At this time there is no charge for this service

Friday, November 02, 2007

Question about Member Card for WPL E-Resources

Some libraries might receive a Member Card to access WPL remote e-resources yesterday. Kelly from Bolton asked "Is there a designated place on the website where this card can be used?"

The answer is YES. The URL is

Sorry for forgetting to include it on the instruction sheet. If you have any more questions, please send email to Ping or call 508-799-1663.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Workplace Trends

Massachusetts Healthcare Reform Law
Massachusetts Health Care Reform became law on April 12, 2006. The Health Care Reform Act, passed as a Session Law, has been and will continue to be incorporated into the General Laws of the Commonwealth. The entire Act can be read under Chapter 58 of the Acts of 2006. If your library does not have a print subscription to the laws of Massachusetts the Health Care Reform Act can still be read in its entirety at

The goal of the Healthcare Act is universal health insurance for all Massachusetts residents. Under this Act all residents 18 and over were required to obtain health insurance by July 1st, 2007. There are three ways that individuals can obtain health insurance: private insurance, insurance coverage through an employer, or coverage through the newly established Commonwealth Choice Health Plan.

The Commonwealth Choice Health Plan is administered by the Commonwealth Health Insurance Connector. The Connector, established by subsection (a) of section 2 of Chapter 176Q, assists individuals and families, employees, and employers to choose the right health plan. They also provide subsidies to assist eligible individuals in purchasing health insurance.

The folks at the Commonwealth Connector Authority can be reached by phone at 1-877-623-6765. However, the Connector website is the best place to start if you have internet access:

From this site small business employers can determine their obligations under the new law, find help in creating a health plan for their employees, and read the details of the Cafeteria Plan mandate. Individuals and families are assisted in selecting a health plan from among six insurance companies through a program called Commonwealth Choice. Alternatively, individuals and families can learn how to utilize the Commonwealth Care program. Commonwealth Care is an insurance program for uninsured individuuals with incomes that fall within certain guidelines and who meet other qualifications.

Invaluable Reference Resource

Worcester Public Library
Worcester Clipping File

The Pamphlet File is where we house the large newspaper clipping files on Worcester area subjects. Almost all the items are from the Worcester Telegram and Evening Gazette and cover the time period from about 1960 to the present. While there are clippings from before 1960, the coverage is somewhat sparse. All items should be dated and indicated which newspaper they were taken from.
The number of items in each folder varies widely. Some may have only one clipping while others may fill 2 or 3 folders. The only entry to the files is by subject. Where possible, the most direct heading is used, i.e., a company name, a college, an organization. Some subjects work better with indirect headings, such as, Congregational Churches--church name; Schools--Elementary--school name.
The collection contains materials that were judged to be of lasting interest but this is subjective and may not reflect what is needed in the future. It is a best guess for the period of the newspaper that is not indexed.
From 1989 to the present, the newspaper is available, fully indexed for locally produced stories, as part of the "Newsbank Collection". Coverage in the Pamphlet Files is consequently less complete from that date on.

Worcester Clipping File Subject Headings:

Friday, October 26, 2007

Worcester Area Writers Project

It has now been well over 20 years since Worcester author and activist Michael True, working under the auspices of Worcester Public Library, completed Worcester Area Writers 1680-1980 a compilation of biographical sketches of novelists, poets, essayists, and others who were born or lived in the Worcester area. Twenty of these individuals were the subjects of page-long treatments, among them Mary Rowlandson of Lancaster whose 17th century account of her captivity among local native Americans became a “best seller” in both England and America; historian George Bancroft, and chronicler of colonial life Alice Morse Earle, along with better-known central Massachusetts natives such as poet Stanley Kunitz and novelist Esther Forbes. Thumbnail sketches of over 100 other local writers are also included.

Now we are interested in producing a revised edition of Worcester Area Writers. Although this will no doubt entail expanding some of the existing entries, and adding pertinent detail to others, the primary focus of the work will be on providing information on local writers who have come to the fore since 1980. We would like to cast as wide a net as possible and the list we have begun to compile is long and growing. However, we want to make sure that we do not miss anyone and would like to enlist your help in identifying writers whom you feel should be included in the final product. The only criterion is that they have a strong connection to the Worcester area through either birth or (relatively) long term residence here.

We would also like to offer you the opportunity to become part of this work by serving with us on an ad hoc committee devoted to shaping this project and seeing it through to completion. Anyone with an interest in local history or literature is encouraged to provide input or to join us. Please contact Joy Hennig at or 508-799-1670.

Saturday, October 13, 2007


We - at Uxbridge High School - just finished a NEASC accreditation visit...the experience seemed fine although we still have serious building issues unchanged, for the most part, since ten years ago...if anyone has questions about the School Resources part of the report please feel free to post to here. Thanks!

Bill S.

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Readers Advisory

My first experience with regional cooperation was back in 1967 when I was an ILL assistant at Holy Cross. Lists of desired books were checked in the card catalog, gathered up, and a phone call made to Alice Atanian to find out where the packages were to be mailed.
It must have been in the late nineties that Alice told me if I wanted to keep up with what librarians were doing to help readers I should consult FICTION-L. I discovered a source for the best in gay fiction, inspirational fiction, chicklit, urban novels, slipstream, OPRAH, non-fiction reader's advisory, even collection management and marketing the collection. The librarians on this listserve share even with lurkers like me the reality we are not alone.
I hope the Regional Reference Blog will do the same.

Friday, October 05, 2007

Give Me the Simple Life.......

Those weary of the hustle and bustle of modern consumer society should enjoy three new accounts by individuals who tried extremely different lifestyles for a year. "In Not Buying It: My Year Without Shopping", a middle aged couple agree to avoid buying anything but absolute necessities . Generic groceries, internet time for their work from jobs, and insulin for their diabetic cat are three basics they agree on from the start. "See You In a Hundred Years: Four Seasons In Forgotten America" by Logan Ward is the story of a young couple who buy a farm in rural Virginia, remove the bathroom, have the electricity turned off, and try to live for a year as an average farm family would have in 1900. They find growing and preserving all their own food for a year and coping with contrary farm animals more of a challenge than they had anticipated; but one unexpected resource, the goodwill and helpful advice of their neighbors, helps them make it triumphantly through the year. "The Year Of Living Biblically" by A.J. Jacobs is the story of a modern New Yorker who resolved to literally observe every single New and Old Testament injunction that he legally could. I'm probably cheating slightly including Jacobs book since it hasn't arrived at WPL yet; but all the reviews of it have been very positive. Does anyone have anyother new books on experimenting with alternative lifestyles to add to the list?

Thursday, October 04, 2007

Food for Thought---Oktoberfest Websites

Oktoberfest Websites

Oktoberfest is originally a German celebration which was first celebrated on October 12, 1810 with a festival at the public celebration of the wedding of Crown Prince Leopold I and Princess Maria Theresa of Bavaria on October 17, 1810 held in a large meadow in Munich. However, the celebration also featured a horse race, beer, food, music, and dancing, as well. Today, Oktoberfest is celebrated anywhere from September 11th through October 11th with special foods, beers, and activities appropriate to the season. Make your own Oktoberfest last longer and enjoy these websites!


Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Good Football Websites

Now that football season is in full swing, I'd like to point out a few interesting sites that are informative and fun to explore. The official site of the National Football League is

This is probably the best place to find complete statistics, game recaps, and all the most important stories pertaining to pro football. There are regular columns written by some of the sport's most knowledgeable writers, great action photos from the week's games, many video clips of outstanding highlights from recent contests, and loads of other special features. You could spend hours surfing this site.

Another good site is Although not as colorful or flashy as the N.F.L. site, there's quite a variety of interesting material to be found here as well. There's in-depth coverage of individual players, a lot of N.F.L. news, analysis, and stats by a team of experts, along with extensive coverage of the fantasy football phenomenon and predictions for next week's games. Give it a try.

For the fan that enjoys football history, give a try. It's a fascinating site that delves into a tremendous amount of historical facts and stats for all of the pro teams, past and present. The site gives the all-time records of all the players who ever played pro football, along with information on all the coaches as well as how each team played from year to year since the league was created. If you're a real fan, you can lose yourself for days in this site.

In a future blog I will discuss a few of the best college football sites, but for now, try these and see what you think.

Saturday, September 22, 2007

New Reference Book

by Facts on File
6 volumes
ISBN 0816059047

Did you know that herons have special feathers whose tips crumble into a powder that spreads over their plummage to keep them water repellent? Did you know that albino blackbirds sometimes occur? These questions and more are answered in this six volume set designed to introduce readers to the world of birds. Wonderful colored photographs and illustrations show birdsfrom the forests of North America, to the beaches of South America and the plains of Australia. Alphabetically arranged, information on each bird includes order, family, genus and species; habitat; behavior; breeding; food and feeding; distribution and range; vital statistics and creature comparisons. This set will fascinate bird lovers of all ages.

Friday, September 21, 2007

New England Court Records

September 21, 2007

I would like to highly recommend purchase of a relatively new book by Diane Rapaport called “New England Court Records: a research guide for genealogists and historians: (Burlington, MA: Quill Pen Press, 2006, $29.95). While aimed at the genealogist and historian, it is a good introduction to legal records. In the first, smaller section there is information on the court systems, types of records created and how to locate them. The second section has individual chapters on each of the New England states, giving a judicial time line, the courts today and where to actually find the records for each court.

This book is quite readable and extremely informative. I think it belongs on the shelves of any library.

Nancy E. Gaudette
Worcester Public Library

More on Searching Obituaries in Proquest

I recently posted instructions from Proquest on how to search for obituaries. Several of you responded that the instructions did not work for the T&G. There is no option in the T&G interface to select "obituary" as a document type to narrow the search. I went back to Proquest and told them this. Their reponse in part was "The Worcester Telegram & Gazette does not use a separate designation for Obituaries in their electronic feed to ProQuest." The woman I spoke with recommended that you use a date limiter to find an obituary. Bet she's never worked on a reference desk before! I told her that people don't often have a clue what the date is and if they think they have a clue they are often mistaken. So I went to the source...George Labonte, the T&G Librarian, to get his input. I am posting his comments with his permission:

"Here's my suggestion:

Go to the "advanced" search tab. Type the name of the deceased in the top search line. Leave the operator "and" in front of the second line and type "deaths" (without quote marks) on the second line. Click on the menu to the right, and choose "Section." Most obituaries in the T&G appear in the Deaths section. Obits of prominent people may appear in other sections.

For most names, that will suffice. If the searcher is looking for a very common, name, change the designation to the right of the name on the first line from "Citation and document text" to "Citation and abstract." That may help narrow the search results. Currently the ProQuest interface does not allow you to confine a search to the headline, which would be the most efficient search.

Another way to narrow results is to add a date element. That is done in the section below the textual search elements. If a searcher chooses "Specific date range," spaces will open to the right in which a beginning date and a closing date may be entered. Follow the style indicated.

It's important to remember that there is no law that requires that obituaries be published in the newspaper. Submission has always been voluntary. Sometimes a name only appears in the "Recent Deaths" list. (You must search the entire document and not just the abstract to find such a name.) That is the only free publication of a death notice now available in the Telegram & Gazette. If the name only appears in Recent Deaths, the entry usually includes the name of the funeral director, who could be a further source of information. Last, remember that coverage of obituaries on ProQuest begins in January 1989. Obituaries before that date are only available on microfilm. In Central Massachusetts, the Worcester, Auburn and Shrewsbury Public Libraries hold our microfilm. In Boston, our microfilm is available at the Boston Public Library and the Statehouse library. Library of Congress also collects T&G microfilm. "

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Worcester E-Resources at Your Library

Thursday, September 27
10 AM - 12 PM
Groton Public Library

Want to use the e-resources that Worcester Public Library subscribes to? Learn what each database covers, and pick up search tips and strategies. We'll bring handouts to promote this new access. Pingsheng Chen and Paul Pelletier will lead this session.

Friday, September 14, 2007

Copyright issues for Community Access Television Story Hour

I'm looking for some advice on copyright issues and perhaps some personal advice from someone who might have produced a Community Access Television Story Hour. I'm working with my local community access television station to produce shows. I would like to apply for a local Cultural Council grant to produce a show featuring grandparents who want to read to their grandchildren. The grandparent would come down to the studio and sit in a rocking chair and read.

Here's my reference question: Do I need to get permission from each publisher to use the book on Community Access Television? Or, is there some type of blanket contract that might apply, similar to permission to show videos/dvds in libraries?

Here's the concept: We would film the story being read by a grandparent, which would be reproduced on DVD for purchase by the Grandparent, so it could be replayed as many times as it interests the grandchild. The reading would air once or twice for a general audience, more if it was a classic book by an exceptional reader. I think the project would be especially popular among grandparents that live far from their grandchildren. The grant would provide seed money for a selection of good big print children's books. If successful, the profits from the DVDs would keep the show going after the grant runs out.

Any comments are appreciated.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Finding obituaries in ProQuest newspapers

Finding biographical information about people and celebrities is one of the many uses of the ProQuest newspaper database that is provided by CMRLS to members. One important source of biographical information can be found in newspaper obituaries.

Obituaries may contain information about a person’s birthplace, family names, work history, where they lived, leadership positions, affiliations and hobbies. Genealogists may be able to use obituaries to determine family member names and relationships.

There are several ways to find obituary information using ProQuest newspapers databases. Below are listed various strategies you can use.

Published newspaper obituary

Most obituaries contain information about average citizens and are written by the deceased person’s family or a local newspaper based on information supplied by the family. ProQuest uses the Document Type = Obituaries field to narrow a search to just published obituaries.

1) Click on the More Search Options tab in the middle of the page.
2) Expand the Document Type field and choose Obituary
3) Go up to the Basic Search box and type the deceased person’s name. You may want to try typing the name using given name, initials and nickname. Trying various forms of the person’s name within separate searches will help to insure success at finding the obituary.

An alternative method for finding newspaper obituaries is to use the following search strategy in the Basic Search box:

John Smith AND (obituary or obituaries)

Famous people and Celebrities

Many newspapers do not publish standard obituaries for the death of famous people or celebrities. Instead, they may do a feature story on the famous person’s life. These newspaper articles are not designated as obituaries and you will need a different search strategy. Try using the following strategies for finding information about the death of famous people and celebrities:

June Allyson AND (dead OR death OR died OR dies)
June Allyson AND (obituary OR obituaries)

Additional strategies to narrow your search include narrowing to a local newspaper or using the date feature to narrow the approximate month or year of the death.

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

United States Government Documents at WPL

The Worcester Public Library has been a select U.S. Government Documents Depository since the inception of the program in 1859. As one of the oldest such libraries in the country, Worcester has some unique holdings of federal government publications.
Some of these irreplaceable materials include: War Department publications from the Civil War, the Panama Canal construction, and World Wars I and II. The very early works include Journals of Congress from 1790, American State Papers from Colonial times, the United States Serial Set from the early 19th century (1833), State Papers and Publick Documents of the United States from the accession of George Washington to the presidency, exhibiting a complete view of foreign relations since that time. 1789-96, and The Papers of James Madison purchased by order of the Congress.
Now, 148 years later, we still receive around 5,000 documents each year from all the various government agencies. Only now they come in paper, microfiche, mixed kits, VHS, DVD, CD-ROM, and online through the library's OPAC

The Rosetta Stone, Then and Now

The Rosetta Stone gave the world the key to the long-forgotten language of ancient Egypt. A French officer of Napoleon's engineering corps discovered it in 1799.He found the stone half buried in the mud near Rosetta, a city near Alexandria, Egypt.The stone was later taken to England, where it is still preserved in the British Museum. Today, the name also stands for the fully-interactive, step-by-step language-learning software. It includes thirty languages, and its applications are far-reaching. Rosetta Stone is recognized by thousands of schools and universities as an ideal English as a Second Language(ESL) solution, giving millions of English learners the confidence to communicate. The Worcester Public Library Foundation received a grant from the Verizon Foundation that will allow the Worcester Public Library and Literacy Volunteers of Greater Worcester (LVGW) to add Rosetta Stone Online to the Library’s Internet-based database collection. Rosetta Stone is language-learning software that features an interactive dynamic immersion method. Library patrons can use it to learn English at their convenience from anywhere, through the Library's webpage link to "Online Databases". A Worcester Public Library card is required. LVGW will hold classes in the library’s computer lab for people who want personal instruction. Please contact LVGW directly at 508-754-8056.

Thursday, August 30, 2007

Regional Reference Blog Workshop

If you are interested in becoming a contributor to the Regional Reference Blog and if you are curious about how the blog works, please sign up for the Regional Reference Center Blog workshop which will be held on Wednesday, September 12, 10:00 am to 12:00 at the Worcester Public Library Computer Lab.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

The Blog's Purpose and Guidelines

This blog provides an opportunity for real-time sharing of information, news, ideas and concerns related the reference service among the 251 multi-type libraries that make up the Central Massachusetts Regional Library System. Anyone involved in providing reference service within CMRLS is encouraged to participate in this support tool, created by and for librarians. Let's take advantage of our collective knowledge and experience.

Suggested subjects include but certainly are not limited to:

  • Workshop information: upcoming offerings, tips from workshops you attended
  • New products: the good, the bad and the really ugly
  • Questions and concerns: share yours or offer your suggestions and solutions
  • Reference finds: websites, titles, databases, handouts
  • Professional resources: books, tutorials, links
  • Programming and PR: successes and failures
  • Reference questions: new tough ones and perennials, along with answers and suggested answers
  • News appointments and departures
  • Ideas: trial balloons and proven winners

The Regional Reference Blog's focus is reference service within the Central Massachusetts Regional Library system community. This includes reference service for both youth and adults provided by public, school, special and academic libraries that are members of CMRLS. All staff are encouraged to participate, to share news, ideas, and tips as well as solicit help or suggestions related to reference service.

The Regional Reference Blog is not the tool for communicating confidential information or for discussions unrelated to reference service.

  • All postings and comments should be written in courteous, business-like language.
  • The use of discriminator, insulting, offensive, disrespectful, demeaning language is prohibited.

Jane Peck, the Head of Reference Service at the Worcester Public Library, will serve as the Regional Reference Blog monitor and moderate all comments. Concerns or suggestions should be sent by email to

Thursday, August 23, 2007

New to the World of Blog

I just signed up to blog. This is very exciting for me as I have never done this before. See you at the Blog workshop.

School Libraries

I'm a Director of a school library and we just went back - staff only - this week. Another year begins! I'm new to this blog and hope to discuss school libraries and issues that pertain to them.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

"Member Cards" Expand Access to E-resources

Starting this fall CMRLS member libraries will have a Worcester Public Library "member card". This card will enable member libraries to access the remote databases that are available to all our card holders. These databases cover many subjects, from health to history, from geography to genealogy and include databases for children as well as adults . Several databases are also available in Spanish. For a complete list of the remote databases please go to WPL's homepage and click on "Online Databases", then select "Databases Outside the Library".

These "member cards" are only for use on your computers and should not be given out to patrons. We hope this service will make it possible for you, as our member libraries, to expand your patrons' access to current information sources. Two training workshops on these databases are planned for this fall (two more in the Spring). The fall workshops will be held in Groton and Blackstone. Check the Continuing Education listing on the CMRLS website for more details and to sign up.

Library Cards

I was at a training for new staff a few months ago. I vaguely remember something about cards being issued so we could access some of the reference resources that are specific to Worcester Public Library. Did I understand correctly? If so, how do we obtain a card?

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

How to Join the Blog

1. Send your email address to
2. You will receive an email invitation from the Blog.
3. Follow the link in the invitation to create a blog account.
4. If you already have a account, log in with your username and password.
5. If you don't have one, click on Create a Google Account.
6. If you want to use your cwmars email account or other existing email account, you go ahead to fill out the blanks and accept the Terms of Service.
7. After clicking on Continue, you are in the working area of the blog. You should be able to create your posts.
8. If you have any questions regarding the process, please call Ping at 508-799-1633 or email her at

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Regional Reference

The Old Order Changeth …
This is the last regular Regional Reference article that will appear in CMRLS’ traditional Centralities format. This is partly because Centralities itself is changing and partly because we’re in the process of creating a new, more interactive communication tool focused on reference services within the region.

This summer, the Worcester Public Library Reference Division is launching a reference blog, and these regular monthly articles will appear in this new format along with much more. We hope the blog format will provide a place for reference staff across the region to share ideas and concerns, offer suggestions, pass on tips and solicit help with problems in a fast and very responsive way. It might help us all respond more effectively to hot issues or local concerns, by bringing our collective knowledge to bear on these things. And, while it’s difficult for many of us to get to meetings and workshops, if we share some of what we learn, everyone can benefit.

Here at Worcester, we’ll use the blog to talk about new reference items, e-resources we’re adding, good links we’ve found, and services and programs that are available to you and your patrons. We’ll also use it as a way to introduce our staff to all of you so you’ll know whom to contact when you have a very specific question.

Blogs, of course, work best when everyone gets involved by creating posts and responding to other’s posts. These posts don’t have to be major topics, because just “talking” about the things that come up in day-to-day reference service gives us a chance to learn from each other’s experience. Sharing what we discover in our daily work, raising questions about new products or offering links to new information resources will help us all keep current. Since reference service staff work with patrons of all ages, children’s and youth service’s staff are encouraged to contribute as well.

Now is also the time to offer naming rights for this new blog. Please send your suggestions on to me ( and we’ll do a quick poll on the new blog to see what wins.

CMRLS Regional Reference Center, Worcester Public Library, 3 Salem Sq, Worcester MA 01608