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

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Reference USA

For a number of years the Worcester Public Library has subscribed to the residential and business databases published by Reference USA. These databases are so heavily used that we decided to provide remote access for our patrons. If your patrons would like to use these two databases from home, and they reside in Massachusetts, they can come to the Worcester Public Library and get a free library card from us.

The folks at Ref USA have compiled information on 14 million United States businesses. As a result, Ref USA is one the most comprehensive business databases being published. However, one of the drawbacks to all business databases, and this includes Ref USA, is that small private businesses generally fall through the cracks. A typical Ref USA business record includes address information, corporate information (including headquarters and all branch locations), annual sales, and credit rating score. You will be told if the company is private or public. If the company is public you also have access to SEC filings, stock exchange information, and annual reports.

Another great advantage to using Ref USA is that the database provides information on home based businesses. While the business database is certainly used to find information on a single company this is not primarily how it is used. Many of our Worcester patrons use the business database to compile lists of like companies within a geographic area for job searching or to market their own product or service. Many entrepreneurs use the database to show venture capital firms who their competition is or isn't!

The residential database holds information on 102 million United States residents. New listings are picked up by Ref USA eight to twelve weeks after they are listed in the telephone white pages. Also, Ref USA consults the national change of address database every month. So, if someone moves after they are listed in the telephone white pages, Ref USA will publish this information within a month. On the minus side, people who have unlisted phone numbers will not show up in the database at all. The residential database can also be consulted for United States census data to determine median household income, median home value, and percentage of owner occupied housing. There are many free online telephone directories out there but Ref USA is clearly the winner.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Need Help? Dial 211

Mass 211 is the telephone number to connect people to information on health and human services. The Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency (MEMA) and the Council of Massachusetts United Ways (COMUW) made this Information and Referral Line the Commonwealth"s primary call center in times of emergency.
The state wide Resource Locator has been developed with cooperation between the Executive Office of Health & Human Services , many United Ways, CAC's and community agencies. It replaces the First Call IR service by individual United Ways. Translation is available when one calls.

More details are available at or

Marketing/Media packets can be downloaded from this site to advertise the service.

anna k

catching up with popular culture

daily candy girl Popular culture is more than teen lit. If you are like me, and want to keep up with or reach for the cutting edge, there are a few sites, catalogs and magazines that cater to your needs.

Daily Candy:

Daily Candy sends me two emails everyday. One is for "Everywhere," and the other is specific to the Boston area. To use the vernacular, they have the coolest stuff! They will give you the lowdown on up and coming fashion designers, local eateries and the best gifts. Yes, I consume twice the Daily Candy.

Wired Magazine has been following the technological revolution since March of 1993. In a confusing world, it consistently breaks down the nonsense into understandable chunks. Wired is always on top or ahead of what's happening with computers, science & technology, and the Internet.

My favorite sections are "Jargon Watch" and "Expired-Tired-Wired"...and of course, it's excellent cover-to-cover.

Ever need an inflatable fruitcake? Deluxe finger monsters? The world's largest champagne glass? These gifts are edgy and frankly, out there. Perfect for 30 somethings. They get this!

All for now,
Jillian M. Parsons

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Historic American Cookbook Project

The Feeding America project has created an online collection of some of the most important and influential American cookbooks from the late 18th to early 20th century. The digital archive includes page images of 76 cookbooks from the MSU Library's collection as well as searchable full-text transcriptions. This site also features a glossary of cookery terms and multidimensional images of antique cooking implements from the collections of the MSU Museum.

The Feeding America online collection hopes to highlight an important part of America's cultural heritage for teachers, students, researchers investigating American social history, professional chefs, and lifelong learners of all ages.To learn more Information about the project please select one of the following:

Introductory Essay -
An essay by Jan Longone that discusses Feeding America and the history of cookbooks in America.
Video Tour
- A video highlighting some of the key items in the Feeding America project. (Requires Real Player
Frequently Asked Questions
- A list of common questions about the project, and their answers.
Press Coverage -
A selection of articles and reviews written about Feeding America and its recipes as well as links to sites on which Feeding America was a feature.
Digitization Process
- A detailed description of our process for digitizing the cookbooks.
Editorial Intervention
- A description of editorial interventions which were made during the creation of this digital collection.
Encoding Guidelines - These are the XHTML guidelines for encoding the cookbooks. Includes the DTD
Our Staff -
The members of our staff who made Feeding America possible.
MSU Cookery Collection -
A brief overview of the collection which consists of about 7,000 cookbooks

Thursday, December 04, 2008

Organize Yourself!

If you want to get organized in your working life or home life, there are a number of Internet sites to get you started. I have two favorites you might enjoy:

The Ta-da! List:

It's not a to-do list, it's a Ta-da! list. You can enter your list items and check them off as you complete them. There is a record of what you have accomplished which you can also delete if you want. You can have as many lists as you wish.

The Prioritizer:

The Prioritizer can provide hours of fun. It was created by CNN's online personal finance site to help you organize your financial decisions. However, you can use it for anything.

You enter fifteen goals, and then go through a number of screens that ask you to choose one goal over another. The screens show the choices randomly. It is like going to the eye doctor when he says "A or B?" over and over. Of course this is more fun. The result is a list of all of your goals ranked by your choices. This list is strikingly accurate. So try it!!

Culture Shock

Are you aware that it is respectful in certain cultures to remove your shoes when entering a home or place of worship? Or if invited to a Costa Rican home it is appropriate to bring flowers but not lilies since they are a symbol of death? In Indonesia, it’s better to point with your fist than your finger. Culture Crossing is an entertaining website that provides these and other valuable pointers on other cultures.

It is a good place to start if you are traveling abroad or meeting people from other cultures and would like to know a bit about their values, protocol and communication styles. It touches on gesture, taboo, greeting, facts, dress code and other such details so you are better prepared. Some country listings have a short video clip on etiquette.

Although Culture Crossing is a crash-course in cross-cultural etiquette, the information seems to be user generated, so take it with a grain of salt and a pinch of common sense.

Monday, December 01, 2008

Graphic Novels

With the new responsibility of selecting materials for the Graphic Novels collection I am doing what a librarian does first – gathering information. I have found some websites, and for example, and borrowed a book from the CMRLS Professional Collection. Also as a typical librarian, I read a few of the graphic novels already in the collection. All of these sources have provided useful information, although they tend to be geared toward YA collections, while I am buying for the adult collection. Does anyone have another source of information, or a favorite artist or series?

Friday, November 21, 2008


With Thanksgiving around corner many people are looking for recipes. For those of us who don't want to eat the animals, there are lots of yummy vegan recipes out there. I am going to share a few websites and titles of cookbooks that i have encountered to get you started. Is the Post Punk Kitchen which is a cooking show's website with Isa Moskowitz and Terry Romero. I have 3 of their cookbooks which are terrific. I have tried many recipes and they have been enjoyed by vegans, vegetarians and meat eaters. There are suggestions for altering non-vegan recipes to be vegan with substitutions as well as information on vegan cooking and cooking in general.

Vegan with a Vengeance
Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World (i love the title!) which is a site for Bryanna Clark Grogan who is the author of many cookbooks. has reviews and comments on the recipes. It is helpful to read a few of them to see what a few people think of it as well as ideas on how to alter the recipe. is a website that has two downloadable cookbooks on it that are also mostly gluten free. is a site from a canadian cookbook author Sarah Kramer. I have one of her books and it has lots of information on vegan cooking and other things as well (ex: many uses of baking soda.)
The Garden of Vegan. has recipes as well as information on the vegan lifestyle. they have put out a few cookbooks, two of which get lots of use at my house.

The Compassionate Cook, or, Please don't eat the animals.
Cooking with PETA (terrific brownie recipe- they will never know it has tofu-tried and loved by many staff at Worcester Public Library and a delicious pumpkin pie that i make for my family every thanksgiving - never know it has tofu! secret is to really blend it well so no lumps.)

Another book that gets too much use at my house is
The Joy of Vegan Baking by Colleen Patrick-Goudreau
Lots of information on baking and substitutions. Full of information as well as good recipes.

I hope you all enjoy your holiday baking and cooking.

Katherine R.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

The Longest Month

The trouble with doing book displays is the better your display is the faster the books go out and the sooner you are looking for replacements. Some display subjects have enough material that refills aren't a problem; but others force me to improvise wildly. For example I usually fill in the period between when the first frost forces me to take down the gardening display and when I can put up the holiday books with a batch of autumn themed books. I use cookbooks for soups, stews, pies and other cold weather foods add in some craft books such as gourd crafts, wheat weaving, and scarecrows. In October I can use Halloween related books: pumpkin carving, costume making, theatrical makeup, horror movies, ghosts, werewolves and vampires. November is a very long month when it comes to keeping the display filled. Fortunately there are a few new books on the Mayflower and the Pilgrims; but when they are gone I have to start sneaking in the Puritans and colonial history in general. After the turkey, potato, and pumpkin cookbooks go out, I have to add poultry and New England cookbooks. Every now and then I have a flash of inspiration; one year the day before Thanksgiving I put out books on napkin folding. Usually I'm just searching desperately for ideas. Does anyone have any suggestions?

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Google is Taking Spoken Questions via iPhone

The New York Times reported that "Google researchers have added sophisticated voice recognition technology to the company’s search software for the Apple iPhone."

Users of the free application can ask virtually any question, like “Where’s the nearest Starbucks?” or “How tall is Mount Everest?"


Novelist Plus is now Offered by WPL

The Worcester Public Library now offers remote access to Novelist Plus – a complete readers’ advisory solution. Novelist Plus is available to anyone with a valid Worcester Public Library card.

Special features:

• Information on more than 200,000 titles, including over 50,000 nonfiction
• Approximately 20,000 new titles added yearly
• Author Read-alikes, Book Discussion Guides and BookTalks
• Hundreds of reading lists covering all genres and reading levels and over 300 award lists
• Continued coverage of series information with thousands of adult and juvenile, fiction and nonfiction series, all in reading order
• Librarians and patrons can create and annotate their own lists using “My Folders and Alerts”

To access:
Go to
Click on Online Databases
Then select Reading Suggestions
Access from this blog
Click on Novelist Plus under WPL Remote Databases in the right column of this blog

If you have any questions, feel free to contact Ping at

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Growing Up in Worcester and Around the World

This coming Sunday, November 16th, local author and movie reviewer for the Telegram and Gazette, Jeffrey E. Long, will present a talk entitled "Growing Up in Worcester and Around the World: Reading Memoirs for Pleasure, Bibliotherapy and Cultural Insight" at 2:00 p.m. in the Saxe Room at the main branch of the Worcester Public Library, 3 Salem Square. Jeff is the author of "Remembered Childhoods: A Guide to Autobiography and Memoirs of Childhood and Youth" which was published by Scarecrow Press in 2007. He has also been an active participant in the Worcester County Writers Project that I've discussed in previous postings.

This entertaining and informative event should be of interest to all readers, from the mildly curious to those who, like myself, are addicted to the coming-of -age memoir, particularly in this post-James Frey world.

The program is free and open to all. Hope to see you there.


ESL, GED and Citizenship Info

Information on GED, ESL and the Citizenship process is much sought after at the Worcester Public Library. We have updated these pages on our website and hope that your patrons will find them helpful too.

The classes and agencies listed on our website are located in the Worcester area. Most often, our patrons have found themselves wait-listed since the class of their choice is full. We hope that with this resource, patrons can now make use of alternate locations that provide the same service.

We’ve also added links to a list of ESL/GED and Pimsleur language materials available at the Worcester Public Library. In addition, you can connect to learning English websites, practice tests from LearningExpress and the new Naturalization test from this blog.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

For Bibliophiles Only...

While looking for library-inspired furniture for a gift, I stumbled across this website, Kim lives in The Netherlands and is obsessed with collecting books AND book-related gadgets, such as invisible and creative shelving. Not finding a satisfactory site, she started this one to bring together all things books, explaining "there is a lot to find on the web about literature et cetera. But no website that contains articles and products that have to do with reading. Reading gadgets, if you will. Until now. I have been longing for a site with stuff that I could lust for. And occasionally buy. This is why I decided to start a blog with reading gadgets myself. Very rapidly I found out that a lot of people were also waiting for a site like this."

The site is still undergoing organization, but there are lists of blogs for every reading interest as well as links to many library-related products. One of my favorites is a YouTube film for a library chair that follows you around the building, stopping to rest wherever you need it. Enjoy browsing!

Monday, November 10, 2008

U.S. Cities Profiles
According to the about us page of this site "We've collected and analyzed data from numerous sources to create as complete and interesting profiles of all U.S. cities as we could. We have over 63,000 city photos not found anywhere else, graphs of latest real estate prices and sales trends, recent home sales, home value estimator, hundreds of thousands of maps, satellite photos, stats about residents (race, income, ancestries, education, employment...), geographical data, state profiles, crime data, registered sex offenders, cost of living, housing, businesses, local news links based on our exclusive technology, birthplaces of famous people, political contributions, city government finances and employment, weather, hospitals, schools, libraries, houses, airports, radio and TV stations, zip codes, area codes, air pollution, latest unemployment data, time zones, water systems and their health and monitoring violations, comparisons to averages, professionally written city guides, a forum and a social network with 420,000 registered members and 5,300,000 posts, 5,000+ user-submitted facts, 13,000+ exclusive local business profiles with photos, and more demographics. If you ever need to research any city for any reason, from considering a move there to just checking where somebody you know is staying, this is the site for you."

U.S. Government Documents

People often think of U.S. Government Documents as tomes of textual material. Did you know that they really are available in a variety of formats? The Worcester Public Library's U.S. Document collection, in addition to over 90,000 paper items,and over 200,000 microfiche items, currently contains over 900 CD-ROM items, 83 DVD-ROM items, and 20 VHS tapes. There are also KITS which contain information on various topics which can be used as teaching aids. All of these documents are available for loan. They can be searched for on the Worcester Public Library's Online Catalog.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Learning Languages Online

The Worcester Public Library staff, along with the staff of the Literacy Volunteers of Greater Worcester, are considering two online world language programs to offer to patrons interested in learning or improving a second language whether it be a foreign language or English.

I spent a little time trying both Mango and Tell Me More through our trial subcriptions and my thoughts are below.

Regarding Mango:
· The ESL programs are designed for learners with a specific native language – there is no general ESL.
· The grammatical explanations appear to be inserted irregularly and are quite technical.
· Both the German and Spanish language programs (the two world languages I tried as I have some knowledge of both) introduced the informal “you” in the second lesson, in the context of first meetings. They did identify this as Informal/Friendly Conversation, but my understanding is that there is no such thing as an informal conversation in German and Spanish speaking countries when you are merely acquainted unless you are talking to a child or an animal. This seems to be a true flaw. It may be interesting to note that in the Spanish-to -English lesson, formal address was maintained in the Friendly Conversation.
· The slides seemed slow to load.
· The optional repetition and color-coded breakdown of phrases is useful.

Regarding Tell Me More:
· Much more content, and greater depth unless Mango only allowed access to partial
· More interactive with greater variety of learning activities.
· Multiple language choices for the portal.
· General ESL.

If I was interested in learning or practicing another language, I would choose Tell Me More. Who is our audience? What role do we want this program to fill?

Are you familiar with Tell Me More or Mango? If you are interested, go to their websites and learn a little more about these products: and Please feel free to share your thoughts about these products. We would be especially interested to hear from any libraries that have offered this service to their patrons.


At the Worcester Public Library we've started using Bookletters as a tool for Readers Advisory services as well as marketing purposes. Posted on the library homepage,, you'll find a widget with thumbnail covers of new titles that patrons can click on to link directly to our catalog, where they can find out more information on that title and place requests. You'll also find links for our YA librarian's top picks for teens, Most Requested Titles and signups for email newsletters.

From the Bookletters website:

More than an e-newsletter service or Web content enhancement source, BookLetters is your marketing partner. BookLetters gives you a comprehensive set of tools and thousands of pages of content on books, authors and films so that every branch or department can promote its collection and programs on the Web or through subscription e-newsletters...with BookLetters, you can add your message to Web pages embellished with BookLetters content and customize the pages with your own information. The core of the BookLetters content is our 4 million book database that generates book detail pages that include brief annotations and jacket covers. This core content is enhanced with a continual flow of exclusive BookPage reviews, author biographies, topical editorial clips, seasonal book promotions, book discussion guides, DVD streaming video previews, audiobook narration clips, sound clips, look inside feature and even podcasts.

Creating targeted custom lists is easy - just enter up to 20 ISBNs for each list, view, and publish. Patrons (and staff) can sign up to receive monthly newsletters on new audiobooks, books on the air or children's picture books among others. Annotations and images of book covers are provided by Bookletters editors and reviewers. Bookletters also lets you track how many subscribers you have for each booklist. If any of you have tried the Bookletters product, we'd be interested in hearing about what you've created, and your patrons response. Do you use the provided annotations, or do you prefer your own reviews? Have you used Bookletters to produce a library newsletter?

Friday, October 17, 2008

Kia Ora!

"Now you know how to greet people in Maori!"

Every time you go to, you learn a way to greet people in a different language. This is only one of the ways the site is engaging. Flickr is a web presence that uses the Creative Commons method of copyrighting for their "P2P" (peer to peer) sharing of photographs and other images.

Copyright law has been nebulous and ever-changing when it comes to the Internet, and particularly when it comes to digital images. For example, if you are browsing Google Images, and find a picture you like, you can click on the image and go to the website where the image was posted. Unfortunately, an overwhelming number of websites do not include copyright information for their pictures. So what's a girl to do?

On sites like Flickr, that use Creative Commons, the copyright is transparent.

These are the stipulations one of the artists placed for one of the photos in my Favorites folder:

"You are free:
  • to Share — to copy, distribute and transmit the work
  • to Remix — to adapt the work
Under the following conditions:
  • Attribution. You must attribute the work in the manner specified by the author or licensor (but not in any way that suggests that they endorse you or your use of the work).
  • Noncommercial. You may not use this work for commercial purposes.
    Share Alike. If you alter, transform, or build upon this work, you may distribute the resulting work only under the same or similar license to this one. "

So, the copyright rules are crystal clear.

Why don't you try it out yourself? You can checkout all of the photos and images you can use for your own purposes! Go to:

I would love to introduce you guys to the site. You are welcome to send me a note with your name and e-mail, and I can give you permission to look at all of the favorite photos I have amassed over the years! You can contact me at

I hope you have fun. Happy Picture Surfing!


Wednesday, October 01, 2008

Voting Reference: learn about the upcoming election

A few nonpartisan sources to learn about the candidates and ballot questions:

Friday, September 26, 2008

How To Talk About Books You Haven't Read

I'm sure everyone has experienced a time when you've been asked, "Have you read this book?" and either completely drawn a blank or had to admit that, "No, sorry....but I read a great review!" Fear not...French literature professor and psychoanalyst Pierre Bayard has written a book, How To Talk About Books You Haven't Read, which is not so much a how-to-bluff-your-way-through situations such as this, but gives you license to forgo reading every single title that comes across your desk.

Bayard catagorizes our inner library into four distinct groups: books you don't know, books you have skimmed, books you have heard of and books you have forgotten. His premise seems to be that some books are better discussed without actually having been read, and anyone can bluff effectively in most social situations. Not only that, it can be an exceptionally creative exercise. And who remembers every detail from every book you've read? Bayard seems to think the overall impression made by the author is enough.

Being the type of person who feels guilty if I stop reading a book I don't care for and has at least a dozen books checked out at any time, I found Bayard's tongue-in-cheek arguments thought-provoking. I'd be interested to see what other librarians it! Or not. And then we can discuss it. exciting, innovative new resource (U.S. Department of Education) was designed by students for students and features first-person accounts of students who overcame challenges to going to college such as peer pressure, lack of family support, and financial barriers.

It provides relevant, comprehensive information about why to go, how to go, and how to pay for college or other postsecondary education programs. Young people who may not have considered higher education a viable option will be engaged, informed, and inspired to create their own "roadmap" to college.

Contact Department of Education staff at if you need more information or have speaking or exhibiting opportunities with your organization at which we may introduce

Monday, September 08, 2008
RESORT MAPS are colorful, hand-drawn maps of resort towns and cities, free to area visitors, advertising Restaurants, Accommodations, Retail Stores, Factory Outlets, Recreation & Attractions, Real Estate & Services. Each advertiser is represented with a display ad surrounding the map including a color coded grid locator and a building drawn, highlighted and labeled making it easy to locate them.

With landmarks prominently displayed, Resort Maps are an easy and fun way to find your way around town whether you are visiting, new to the area or if you just want to know what's happening around town.

New England is well represented. The company is growing, continually adding new maps and areas of interest.

An added on-line feature is that the maps are inter-active. If you click on the image, you will be connected to a web site. You can preview a menu, or a hotel.

Friday, September 05, 2008

Technology standards for Massachusetts students

With the new and updated Technology Literacy Standards for students, Massachusetts children are expected to be computer literate from an early age. A recent article in Telegram and Gazette outlines computer skills that our student patrons are expected to learn in each grade. Among other things, students as young as in 3rd grade are expected to be proficient in performing simple searches on databases. The revised standards are expected to educate students in performing electronic research, create multimedia presentations and browse the web.

The article also mentions that students do not have access to computer labs at school in the evenings, which is when they are doing their homework and applying these standards in an effective way.

Thursday, September 04, 2008


Hello, do your patrons ask about how to find out more on charities that are looking for their donations? This website,, can give them information on different charities.

It gives information on their financial health. It also has useful information on what to do when a charity calls you. What questions to ask, how to protect yourself from scams, how to stop solicitations by mail, and information about volunteering, donating books, cars, clothes and more.
Charity Navigator also offers the Good Card, a gift card for charity where the recipients get to donate to their charity of choice.

You can search by category or charity name. There are articles, studies done, just a whole lot of information on the topic.

Monday, August 18, 2008

Languages Spoken in the U.S

Did you know that there are over 300 languages spoken in the United States? According to the Census Bureau, in over 14 million U.S. households people speak a language other than English. Check out the Modern Language Association’s Language Map if you are curious to look up languages in your neighborhood. You can search by language and by state to find out where these and many other languages are spoken.

MLA Language Map uses data from the 2000 US census to display the locations and numbers of speakers of thirty languages and three groups of less commonly spoken languages in the U.S. The census data are based on responses to the question, "Does this person speak a language other than English at home?" The map illustrates the concentration of language speakers in zip codes and counties.

The Data Center provides actual numbers and percentages of speakers and includes census data about additional languages less commonly spoken in the U.S.

Tuesday, August 05, 2008

Unrated Films

Recently, I had a discussion with a colleague regarding unrated films.
What does that actually mean?
We received what appears to be two different answers from two different sources.
A Midwest Tapes customer service representative defined it as editing by the studio of undesirable segments for the home viewing audience.
On the website, I found a longer, and a little more confusing explanation.

As librarians, should we be concerned when purchasing these items? What do we tell a parent who wants to know what that means for their children's viewing choices?

Any thoughts, views, and clarifications would be welcome.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Death by PowerPoint

Have you suffered through a “Death by PowerPoint”? Boring presentations with PowerPoint where a speaker reads and repeats slide after slide of the exact words on the screen, or shows screenshot after screenshot of pages?

I just attended a workshop on one of the new types of PPt presentations, Pecha Kucha from Japan ( that is helping to save people from the deadly and or excruciatingly long presentations.

How it works is you must present your topic with only 20 slides and you have only 20 seconds with each slide to talk so that your presentation is completed in 6 minutes and 40 seconds. And you must do it with mainly images, which I learned should also be emotionally evocative relating to your subject.

It is one way to narrow, organize, and focus your subject matter but also great fun to do, too. There are even Pecha Kucha nights held in various cities.

In the library setting it can help you in giving presentations, for example to the Board or funders or students in a class, as you’ll know and can guarantee them it will last for less than seven minutes!

Granted, it won’t work for all presentations as some subjects do require more time, however, it has given me a new way of looking at how I do my own productions and how to make them more interesting and stimulating. If you use PowerPoint, or want to try it, look into this format, it’s a positive.

Examples of Pecha Kucha are on YouTube (Check out this librarians show called Pecha Kucha 2.0 Podcasting Edition) and search in Slide Share .

Have fun with it and if anyone wants to do a Pecha Kucha library program, let me know!

Thursday, July 17, 2008

RefUSA--Phone & Business Directories available remotely

The Worcester Public Library now offers remote access to RefUSA --Phone and Business Directories. RefUSA databases are available to anyone with a valid Worcester Public Library card.

The offer includes both U.S. Business and U.S. Residential databases.

U.S. Business contains14 million U.S. Businesses which are verified, accurate data and updated monthly. U.S. Residential includes 135 Million U.S. Households. Those records are continuously updated and processed against the USPS National Change of Address (NCOA) and Delivery Sequence File (DSF).

To access:

Go to
Click on Online Databases
Then select Business & Finance
If you have any questions, feel free to contact Ping at

Tuesday, July 08, 2008

Healing Foods

Have you ever wondered about the healing qualities of food? Ever wanted to know if a certain food is helpful for a particular medical condition? Check out to learn more about them. You might find this site useful if you need to look up something quickly. This site has a lengthy list of health conditions and foods that help them. Click on Reference Information on the top right corner to visit the individual pages on Herbs, Supplements and Nutrients. lists herbs and their uses, covering Western and Chinese herbs. lists dietary supplements, their benefits and organs that they support. This site is fairly small compared to the others. lists healing nutrients, including vitamins and minerals. Using this site, you can find out which nutrients help certain health conditions, or even which foods contain specific nutrients.

In addition, on each page you will find a list of other recommended sites and a link to current news and articles on each topic.

Monday, June 30, 2008

Quick....With a few clicks of the mouse find the high school,college, and professional sports teams in Massachusetts, with links to the web sites. Now do that for our other 49 states. These and numerous other "fast facts" can be found on this comprehensive, easy to use site.

Also included are facts and useful information links arranged specific to each of the 50 United States of America. State homepage, capitol tours, constitution, driving rules, election links, genealogical resources, newspapers, maps, political representatives, state symbols, tax forms, topography, tourism, veteran affairs, weather, and more. I especially liked the links to the state home pages. This site will assist the many questions librarians answer about a state flower, bird,flag, or emblem. Worth a look, perhaps even a bookmark.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

One of Life's Little Mysteries

I've noticed a recent trend in the cover art for biographies of historical women to use portraits that only show the subject from the neck down. "Jane Boleyn" by Julia Fox, "Elizabeth and Leicester" by Sarah Gristwood and "Shakespeare's Wife" by Germaine Greer are all examples of this type of cover; there are even two new biographies of Catherine the Great, one by Simon Dixon and the other by Virginia Rounding, that use headless portraits. I'm wondering why this style of book jacket has become popular. It strikes me as vaguely demeaning to the subject of the book; but maybe the author is just trying to imply that we are unable to know her thoughts. Does anyone have an answer or a good theory? Have you seen any covers of this type on biographies of men?

Friday, May 23, 2008

Rotten Tomatoes: Movies Reviews and Previews

Don't let the name of this web site fool you ( In the world of movie reviews and trivia, it is anything but rotten. In fact, it is what companies like Midwest Tapes use to rate the selections that librarians will ultimately choose from. Below is taken from the web site:ABOUT ROTTEN TOMATOES
Like most of you, we love movies … all kinds of movies. Whether it's the latest sci-fi mindbender, visual effects romp, or intimate and personal character-driven independent film, we're there front and center. Life before RT and our Tomatometer was fairly tough when it came to organizing weekends of movie watching at the local cineplex. Sure, we could rely on our local critics or word of mouth, but where was the consensus? Why should we rely on a single critic who may have a particular taste in film different from ours? Couldn't we organize and collect all of the reviews from a variety of sources (newspaper, online, magazines) and average them into a single score? We could and did.

Over 7 million readers each month use RT globally as a dependable, objective resource for coverage of movies and DVD. With more than 250,000 titles and 850,000 review links in its ever-growing database, RT offers a fun and informative way to discover the critical reaction on movies neatly summarized via the Tomatometer.

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Worcester County Writers Project Update

As many of you know, in 1987 Worcester author and activist Michael True authored and the Worcester Public Library published "Worcester Area Writers, 1680-1980", a volume which has served as an important resource for anyone interested in the literary history of Worcester County. Now, a group of WPL staff and local scholars, including Michael True are working on updating and expanding this work. Ultimately, the updated version will be made available electronically and a limited edition of print copies will be created as well. Our goal, as we begin this project, is to be as inclusive as possible within the criteria the committee has outlined.

Since we first met, on February 11th 2008, we have compiled a list of well over 300 writers with strong connections to Worcester County and are now looking for anyone we might have missed! We would appreciate your input as to writers you would like to see added to the new edition. We are considering all types of published works, both fiction and nonfiction, including, but not limited to, works of history, science and biography, as well as literary works including poetry, essays and drama. Works for children and young adults are also of interest. In general textbooks and self-published items will not be included but the work of any writer who was born, resided or worked in Worcester County at any point throughout its history will be considered on a case-by-case basis. Please include as much biographical and bibliographic information on the writers you would like to include as possible.

With these few criteria in mind, we encourage you to send your suggestions to Worcester Local History Librarian Joy Hennig, ( If you have questions, would like to participate in our project, or would simply like to attend one of our committee meetings to see what we are about, please feel free to contact Joy as well.

We look forward to hearing from you.

Saturday, May 10, 2008

U.S. Government Documents Through Interlibrary Loan

If you locate a U.S. Government Documents in the Worcester Public Library OPAC and the record indicates "Library Use Only", in most cases that item may be borrowed through Interlibrary Loan for Use in your Library. The exceptions are the very old documents which are in fragile condition.

Wednesday, May 07, 2008

Books and More Store WPL

Patrons at The Worcester Public Library frequently ask when will the book sales be held throughout the year. We mention to them that they no longer have to wait for a specific date to great some wonderful bargains. Below are the details and operating hours of this little, but packed with treasures shop.

Library Book Store 508 799-1686

Tuesday through Thursday 11:00 a.m - 6:00 p.m.
Friday: 10:30 a.m. – 4:00 p.m.
Saturday: 9:30 a.m. – 3:00 p.m.
Sunday (Jan 9 to May 18): 1:30 p.m. – 4:00 p.m.

The Library Bookstore is located at the parking lot entrance of the Worcester Public Library. The store sells high quality used books and other media, book-related gifts, office supplies, and Worcester-related items. All proceeds from the store support programs at the Main Library and its branches. Friends of the Worcester Public Library get 10% off purchase in the store.

The store is operated by The Friends of the Worcester Public Library, Inc. The Friends depend entirely on volunteers to staff the bookstore. In order to expand our hours, we are currently seeking additional volunteers. If you are interested in working in The Library Bookstore for a weekly shift of two or more hours, particularly mornings or evenings, please stop by the store or contact the volunteer office at 799-1675. We ask for a minimum commitment of at least three months for students and six months for adults. Volunteers get 25% off purchase in the store.

Friday, April 25, 2008

Finding Inexpensive and Fun Activities in Worcester

Spring is in the air and with the trees blooming and the weather growing warmer, more and more patrons are coming in to ask about our museum pass availability. This is great! Our community is taking advantage of this wonderful service. But what happens when you find that all the passes are booked for the date the patron wants to go? You give them lots of suggestions for inexpensive and fun activities to do in Worcester and beyond. For example, if a patron would like to spend the day outside taking a walk, a hike, a bike ride, etc…you can direct them to the National Parks of Massachusetts homepage: This site gives information on location, price, directions and more. Many of these parks are free!

Looking for some indoor activity on a rainy day? On Saturdays from 10am to noon admission is free for everybody at the Worcester Art Museum. Check out their website and learn about their collection at

There’s something for everyone at the website Worcester-Right Place. Right Time: Here a patron can get information on music, theatre & dance, literature & poetry, history & heritage, art service organizations and much more, all right here in wonderful Worcester!

Massachusetts Bar Directory

For years and years the Worcester Public Library received, as a gift, a used set of the Martindale-Hubbell Law Directory. When this stopped we found ourselves in a bind because the volume containing Massachusetts law firms and lawyers was heavily used.

After looking around for a substitute that would fit into our budget I found, for less than $70, the Massachusetts Lawyers Diary and Manual; a bar directory of Massachusetts. The only aspect of the directory that I took note of after it arrived was the arrangement of the lawyers and firms. The directory then sat on our reference shelf for months without much consideration from me until I began to get ready for a workshop on reference books.

What I have since discovered is that this item is truly a gem! If we were only looking for a bar directory it does this beautifully. The text contains an alphabetical arrangement of lawyers with contact information, date of admission to the Massachusetts Bar, and the name of the law firm and their affiliation. A second directory is arranged by city and then alphabetically by name of the lawyer. A third directory lists attorneys grouped by areas of practice.

The following is a list of some, but not all of what this directory has to offer

  • A comprehensive directory by county of all federal and state courts, court personnel, sheriffs offices, district attorney offices, correctional facilities, probation offices, law libraries, registry offices, deeds and probate offices, and more.

  • A municipal directory with the name, address, and telephone numbers of all town officials and departments.

  • Area code and zip code directory for all cities and towns in Massachusetts.

  • A court reporters directory.

  • The exact cost for all filing fees and transaction fees in the state and federal courts, the registry of deeds, plus the fees of sheriffs and constables, and more.

  • Digest of federal and state civil procedure.

  • The ABC's of Massachusetts estate tax, divorce procedure, marriage, and motor vehicle law.

  • Comprehensive directory of all state departments and agencies, key personnel and contact information.

  • A listing of all Massachusetts correctional institutions.

  • A directory of all federal departments and agencies, descriptive summary, key personnel, and contact information.

  • National directory that includes, for each state, key departments, boards, and administrative and municipal offices.

  • A directory of affidavit of non-military service record sources.

  • Where to write for overseas birth and death records.

  • A list of Massachusetts hospitals, health centers and rehabs arranged by city.

  • A directory of Massachusetts insurance companies.

  • A list of Massachusetts law schools and key departments.

  • Federal and state holidays for each state.

  • A directory of all federal, state, and county judges alphabetically arranged.

  • A directory of Bar Associations.

  • All legal aid and referral services arranged by county.

The Manual is published annually out of Newark New Jersey. You can go to their website at or you can call them at (800) 444-4041.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Downloadable Pimsleur Language Series Available at WPL

Worcester Public Library is excited to offer Netlibrary downloadable eAudiobooks to our patrons.

Netlibrary eAudiobooks include:
-Pimsleur Language Series Collection: (39 languages) Easy-to-understand lessons for beginners, intermediate level language learners including ESL students.
-eAudiobooks Core Collection: the latest audio best-sellers, book club favorites, award-winning authors, timeless classic and more.
- eAudiobooks Essentials Collection: Classic fiction with titles from Dickens, Joyce, Melville, Dostoyevsky and many more.
- Holy Bible Collection in 30 parts

The eAudiobooks can be played on a wide range of desktop, laptop and portable devices. The collection is available to anyone with a Worcester Public Library card.

For more information, go to

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Google vs.

Looking at the Google homepage you encounter a clean, crisp screen. Viewing Ref, it is anything but. Could they possibly fit any more information on the scroll-down webpage? We all love Google-admit it. It even spells for you. But refdesk? Is it too much of a good thing in one place? I would like to hear some opinions about this site. Read the mission statement. Take a look at how it is set up, what is included. I can't think of anything that was overlooked. I do know one thing. One can get lost in that site for days way, way, out in cyberspace, taking me to places I never intended to visit.

Thursday, April 03, 2008

Read On...Read On...Read On and On

There are four imaginative guides in the readers' advisory tradition, copyrighted between 2006 and 2008, published by Libraries Unlimited in their "Read On" series.

"Read On--Crime Ficiton"
"Read On--Horror Fiction"
"Read On--Historical Fiction"
"Read On--Fantasy Fiction"

The four volumes are available in attractive paperbacks priced at $30.00 each. Titles are recommended under categories such as mood, atmosphere, setting, character, language, and story line. The subheadings in these categories are catchy and amusing, such as "Machiavellian Men and Women," "Rebels with a Cause," "I'm Too Sexy for My Fangs: Erotic Horror," and "With Humans Like These, Who Needs the Supernatural? Maniacs and Sociopaths." The list goes on, so you get the idea. The books recommended are up-to-date. The series should be a good addition to any library's collection of aids on making topical selections for reading in the various genres to patrons.

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Does the Worcester PL have Rosetta Stone Language Learning Software?

Worcester Public Library has received many inquiries asking if the library has Rosetta Stone Language Learning software. The answer is Yes. But it is for learning ENGLISH (As a Second Language) only. It is accessible through the library's website to anyone with a Worcester Public Library card.

Literacy Volunteers of Great Worcester offers classes in the Worcester Public Library’s computer lab for people who want to learn how to use the software. Please contact LVGW directly at 508-754-8056 for more information.

Friday, March 14, 2008

Where Do I Vote?

Where do I vote?

A good place to look for the answer to this question is on the web site for the Secretary of the Commonwealth .

It does not matter what town or city that you call home. You could live in Worcester, Holden, Spencer, Webster, etc. Just go to this web site then click on Elections Division, and click on Where do I vote. Fill in the information and you will get your election information. The election information tells you your polling place, the name and address of your town clerk, and the names of your elected officials.

The Elections division page is a great source of information. You can find how to apply for an absentee ballot, how to register to vote, how to run for state office and results of past elections, etc. It's a great site. Take a look.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Animal Rights Websites

The National Antivivisection Society has useful information on their site to aid people who want to avoid buying products that are tested on animals as well as many useful links in their "Resource Center"

Go to their website,, and click on the bottom left where it says "who tests on animals." It is written over a picture of a bunny. You can search by company name, product name or product category.

It gives information on types of animal testing as well as alternatives to them.

They have a good "FAQs" section that covers many topics. One of these is to offer alternatives to student dissection.

Founded in 1985, the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine (PCRM) is a nonprofit organization that promotes preventive medicine, conducts clinical research, and encourages higher standards for ethics and effectiveness in research.

This site offers dissection alternatives, this may come in handy for school librarians who may have teachers or students asking what alternatives are available and how can i find them? is their website address. On the right side click on "Animal Experiments," then scroll down to "non-animal methods in research and education." Click on "Dissection Alternatives."

Another website from PCRM on dissection is It is geared toward schools and has lists of which states offer student choice on dissection or alternatives as well as information on alternatives.

PCRM has joined with other research modernization and animal protection organizations to form the Council on Humane Giving. The Council on Humane Giving has developed the Humane Charity Seal of Approval, which is awarded to health charities that fund only nonanimal research and programs. is the site which lists charities which are approved or unapproved by the organization.

Hopefully these sites will aid librarians to assist their patrons in finding ways to protect animals.

Katherine R.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

New and Beautiful

Have you seen "The Asia Book" and "The Africa Book" published by Lonely Planet? These beautiful books pose an interesting dilemma. The spectacular and fascinating color photographs, lists of unforgettable tourist experiences and random facts, and information on the best time to visit and local festivals seem to make these books items for the circulating travel collection. But the brief paragraphs of information on the landscape, economy, and religious and ethnic breakdown for each country on the continent is almost enough information is almost enough material to put these volumes on the reference shelf.
The photographs are different from the ones that appeared in Lonely Plnet's 2004 "Travel Book" and the price and size are both less overwhelming. I'm hoping that Lonely Planet goes on to do the remaining continents of the world.
Incidentally, Worcester Public library has put both "The Asia Book" and "The Africa Book" in the circulating collection.

Local Info- Hanover Theatre

The Hanover Theatre re-opened its doors this past Friday, March 14th with the music of Bernadette Peters. On Sunday The Hanover welcomed The Saw Doctors (just in time for St. Patrick's Day) and excited fans actually go up and started dancing in the aisles during the show. Hanover Theatre is located on 554 Main Street, only a few blocks from the Main Library. It has a number of exciting performers lined up for the Spring and Summer including, Joy Behar, B.B King and Jim Brickman, just to name a few. Visit their website at to learn all about the original Hanover Theatre and its history. Enjoy the show!

Monday, March 03, 2008

New...and Very Exciting! The other night I was watching television. A rather sleek advertisement appeared about Massachusetts libraries. With a Massachusetts library card, you can assess resources without leaving your computer room, that is if you have a computer. I was curious, and the librarian in me had to take a look. I logged in and got a nice clean screen, with easy links and instructions. If you choose to enter a city or town name, you will discover the libraries in that area. There you will find a web page with hours, directions, and what that library has to offer, both on-line and during a visit. Another feature is access to the virtual resources. To those using the virtual catalog and databases everyday at work, this incredible resource is second nature by now. Yet, to those unaware, this is huge. Take a look, spread the word. Use it in everyday reference interactions. As the younger generation says...This is Way Cool! This site is maintained by the Massachusetts Board of Library Commissioners and is funded by the Institute and Library Services, a federal agency that fosters innovation, leadership, and lifetime learning. Thank you Library Commissioners and the Institute.

Saturday, March 01, 2008


Getting questions about those $600 or $1200 tax rebate checks due in May?
The IRS has a fact sheet which you can access at this link.
This explains about Special Circumstances such as Social Security, Railroad Retirement, and Veterans Benefits and how to apply for the rebate, as well as the Basic Eligibility.

Friday, February 29, 2008

Any information on the Eastern Football League teams from 1972-1975?

This question was referred to me from a local library. I could not answer the question adequately and decided to use it for my monthly blog entry. Does anyone out there know anything about EFL local all-star teams from 1972-1975?

My search history began with the Web. I came across a homepage for the EFL located in Cumberland, Maine that also included the name of a contact person and a phone number. The website informed me that the EFL is a [mens] minor league football league that is in its 47th year of operation. They also provided a list of championship games back to 1961. None of this answers the question but I'm hoping that the contact person is housing an archive of the EFL in his basement.

The Boston Globe paper index only goes back to 1982 and the online index to 1980. I gave the online index a shot using the years 1980 to 1985 but I came up with nothing relevant.

I checked the New York Times index from 1972 to 1975. There was nothing under the word "eastern" but there were pages and pages of citations under the word "football." What should I look for? Should I skip everything under "college," "professional" and "semi-professional"?

I know they haven't played in "bowl games" so I'm safe there.

The Worcester Public Library houses a Telegram & Gazette clipping file that goes back, in some cases, to the 1960's. When I opened up the first file folder under football I was pleased to see the date 1964. But my pleasure didn't last long. By the end of my perusal I had two clippings on the EFL, one dated 1989 and the other 1991. Neither one contained anything like a history.

Finally, I checked the national and regional Encyclopedia of Associations. While there were more listings than I could have imagined there was no mention of the EFL.

Any help would be appreciated.

Friday, February 08, 2008

Recent Lincoln Books

Every year produces a fresh crop of books about Abraham Lincoln. Since the latest batch is especially numerous and varied, I decided to provide a quick summary of some of the ones we've added to Worcester Public Library.

"Did Lincoln own slave?: and other frequently asked questions about Abraham Lincoln" by Gerald Prokopowicz is written in question and answer format and deals with both serious topics such as Lincoln's attitude on race and frivolous ones such as the worst picture of Lincoln. The author's breezy, often humorous style makes this an easy way to absorb a great deal of information.

"Lincoln the lawyer" by Brian Dirck deals with all of Lincolns legal career, much of which was commercial law, and how it affected his presidency. " The case of Abraham Lincoln : a story of adultery, murder, and the making of a great president" by J.M. Fenster covers just one sensational trial where Lincoln was the defense counsel. Ms Fenster contends that it was the publicity from this case that distinguished Lincoln from the rest of the group of talented, ambitious Illinios lawyers and paved the way to his future prominence.

"Land of Lincoln: adventures in Abe's America" by Andrew Ferguson examines the ways Lincoln's memory and image have been commemorated and sometimes exploited since his death. He visits a convention of the Association of Lincoln Presenters where he is the only man not dressed as Lincoln and Spinfield, Illinois' new Lincoln museum where the lively exhibits were designed by a former Disney employee to attract tourists.

"The Gettysburg Address: and the Thirteenth Amendment to the Constitution of the United States of America" is a very oversized book with a minimum of text and evocative paintings by Sam Fink on each pages. "Lincoln: the presidential archives" by Chuck Wills is another book notable for its illustrations including document facsimiles .
On the more serious side "Lincoln revisited: new insights from the Lincoln Forum" has chapters by 18 prominent historians on various aspects of Lincoln"s life and leadership.
"House of Abraham: Lincoln and the Todds, a family divided by war" by Stephen William Berry describes the aggravation Lincoln suffered from misguided, unbalanced and sometimes downright malicious relatives and relations.
Both "Douglass and Lincoln..." by Paul Kendrick and "The radical and Republican..." by James Oakes deal with the profound influence Lincoln and Frederick Douglass had on each other.
"Stealing Lincoln's body" by Thomas J. Craughwell is the bizarre but true story of an 1876 plot to hold Lincoln's body for ransom.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Blogging! Some Legal Questions

According to Technorati, the "recognized authority" on the World Wide Web, there are currently 112.8 million blogs. Blogs, shorthand for Web logs, were started by reporters during the war in Iraq. Blogs are now becoming as essential to the American workplace as the Internet and E-mail.

There are some very compelling arguments for and against blogging.

On the plus side, blogging is an excellent way of storing expertise, improving internal communication, keeping abreast of professional issues, trends and resources, and blogs are a powerful online marketing tool. Further, blogs are updated on a regular basis and they are cited by search engines.

On the other hand, blogs have already shown themselves to be a danger to employers when sensitive information is leaked to competitors, or when blogs are used to disparage a company, superviors, customers, or other employees.

While some employers have banned blogging altogether the statistical research is clear - that kind of policy is not good for business. Contrarily, "overly restrictive" blogging policies may be in violation of employment laws. Marc Cote, writing for the Washington Law Review, argues persuasively that the National Labor Relation Act protects employee bloggers from policies that discourage blogging. The Act also discourages "individual adverse emplloyment actions against employees who engage in protected employee blogging." The relevant sections of the Act can be found in 29 U.S.C. sections 7 and 8.

Specifically, the Labor Relations Act inhibits an employer from restrictions that "infringe on employee rights to engage in concerted activity for their mutual aid or protection." Congress enacted the NRLA "to protect the right of workers to act together to better their working conditions" whether they are members of a union or not.

The most reasonable solution for an employer is to write a flexible blogging policy with provisions that protect them from any liabilities. To that end, Jennifer L. Parent has assembled a list of "tips" to include in any blogging policy. She also cautions that these kind of policies should always be reviewed by legal counsel.

Cote, Marc. "Getting dooced: employee blogs and employer blogging policies under the National Labor Relations Act. " Washington Law Review 82.1 (Feb 2007): 121(28).

Parent, Jennifer L. "Can employee blogging put employers at risk? New Hampshire Business Review 29.13 (June 22, 2007): 37(2).

Wednesday, January 09, 2008

New Year, New Reference Questions? Well.....Maybe

It seems the same reference questions keep surfacing all the time. Most are trivia, many a little tricky to find the answer to again. Although you may have looked the answer up numerous times, you may ask, as I often do, just where did I find that bit of information? Before the google age, librarians at The Worcester Public Library kept index cards, by subject on those stumpers. We also could turn to a notebook entitled "ELsie's Barn Door, " for the truly tricky to answer. This little treasure has a wealth of information . When a librarian worked on a question that was either time consuming, difficult to find, or a bound-to-be-asked-again question, we would make a copy, with a Xerox copier, not copy and paste, and keep it at the reference desk for easy retrival. From that gem of a reference source, the FAQS on our web page evolved. Go to, and click on web resources in the upper left hand corner. On that page, in the upper right hand corner, you will see the list. Many of these pertain to Worcester facts, such as the seven hills of Worcester. Others items may also be of interest, such as words ending in gry. I discovered another site with the same purpose in mind. The IPL,, has compiled a similar list by subject. I found it very useful, and interesting for quick facts and figures. I think both are worth a look. By the way, you just have to add these sites to your favorites list, print them out, or copy and paste. The questions may be the same. However, discovering the answers sure is a lot easier.

Monday, January 07, 2008

Guide for New Immigrants

The U.S. government document, Welcome to the United States: a guide for new immigrants is available full text on the Worcester Public Library's OPAC. A title search in English will get you the list of the ten different language editions, from Arabic to Vietnamese.

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