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?

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