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

Thursday, February 26, 2009

2008 Tax Rebate

The Worcester Public Library has had a steady stream of people asking about the "stimulus check." That question created some confusion around here so here are the facts.

In 2008 the government notified individuals by mail who qualified for either a $300 or $600 tax rebate. For most of us the checks followed soon after. The folks who were receiving social security or railroad benefits had to file a 2007 1040A in order to get their checks. The end date for filing was October 15, 2008 because the government wanted all the checks out to individuals by December 31, 2008.

So what happens to those people who either did not 1) receive the letter of notification, 2) did not understand the letter and didn't file, and/or 3) did not receive the correct amount for one reason or another? These people did not lose out and are still eligible for the rebate. Here's how it works.

During this tax file season the government is offering something called a "Recovery Rebate." The following is a list of those who are eligible:

  • Individuals who did not receive their stimulus payment

  • Those who received less than the maximum

  • Families who gained an additional qualifying child in 2008

  • Individuals who could be claimed as a dependent on someone else's tax return in 2007, but who cannot be claimed as a dependent on another return in 2008.

  • Individuals who did not have a valid Social Security number in 2007 but who did receive one in 2008.

If any of your patrons qualifiy they need to claim the Recovery Rebate Credit on Form 1040, 1040a, or 1040ez. The instructions for each of these forms will show you what lines to use.

However, this is a credit. These people will not receive a tax rebate check in the mail as everyone else did in 2008. Instead, the credit will be included in the tax refund for 2008. If they are doing their tax form by hand the government will figure out the credit they are do. If they are filing electronically the software will figure out the credit for them.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Free Resources for Women's History Month

If you are looking for free resources and activities on this year's Women's History Month, here are some websites you might find useful:

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

A not so obvious source...

The other day I was thinking about Abraham Lincoln as it was the 200th anniversary of his birth. My mind wandered to the fact that it is also Black History Month and that Abraham Lincoln could be considered a significant figure in American black history. So, I decided to run a search on him in the Facts on File African-American History Online database. There were over 200 results – some more relevant than others. One of the primary sources that I found particularly interesting was the "Correspondence between Abraham Lincoln and the Workingmen of Manchester, England." According to the entry, this is a:
Letter addressed by workers of Manchester, England, to President Abraham Lincoln, praising his Emancipation Proclamation. English working classes, which were opposed to slavery as a blot on free labor and civilization, sympathized with the Union in America's Civil War, thereby forming a counterweight in British politics to upper- and commercial-class sympathy for the Confederacy.
His response to them is included and both are intriguing, almost as much for the style of writing as for the content.
After this success, I tried Robert Kennedy as my next search with over 100 results. The results included such things as the text of his announcement after Martin Luther King, Jr. had been assassinated as well as video clips of that time.
Finally, to use the database in a more traditional way I tried Magic Johnson (someone had been in for a biography of him last week) and of course, Barack Obama. Both searches supplied plenty of information for a child writing a report demonstrating this database might be just the thing when your library no longer has anything on a not-so-current athlete, or everything on a big name is checked out.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

For Seniors Only...

The National Institute of Health has a website designed for the special needs of seniors, NIH Senior Health. The area of gerontology is evolving as more and more citizens live longer, and topics include those of particular interest to seniors such as Healthy Aging, Memory and Vision & Hearing. Complementary and alternative medicine is included as well. According to the site, "NIHSeniorHealth features authoritative and up-to-date health information from Institutes and Centers at NIH. In addition, the American Geriatrics Society provides expert and independent review of some of the material found on this web site. Each health topic includes general background information, open-captioned videos, quizzes and frequently asked questions (FAQs). New topics are added to the site on a regular basis."

Calling itself "senior friendly", this website is simply designed for those new to online searching, and users can increase the text size, change the text color and/or have the text read aloud. This was of particular interest to a friend suffering from macular degeneration who ordinarily finds it hard to search online. Great to have web resources specifically designed for those who might need it most!

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Thrifty Reference

from Booklist Online
February 9, 2008

Expensive new reference sources, whether print or online, can be out of reach for many libraries in these belt-tightening times, but you don’t necessarily need to spend a lot to freshen up the print reference shelves. Here are some titles that Reference Books Bulletin has reviewed over the past year or so that offer exceptional value.

For more information, see:

Monday, February 09, 2009

Property Foreclosures

Do your patrons ask you for free lists of foreclosed properties?

At one time a U.S government agency would, on a regular schedule, send us a list of foreclosed properties. However, they stopped doing that years ago. Some patrons remember that we got a list and others simply call and ask for websites with lists of foreclosed properties. If only everything were that simple!

I have yet to find a website that did not charge a fee or was not subscription based. But there is a solution. The Worcester Public Library subscribes to a newspaper called Banker & Tradesman. This gem is published weekly and, if your patrons are interested in subscribing themselves, the cost is $278 a year or $7.50 for a single copy. We keep our copy behind the periodicals desk on the third floor.

While I have your attention I'll take a minute to point out some of the other great features of Banker & Tradesman. First, the subtitle is "The Financial Services and Real Estate Weekly for Massachusetts." The first 15 pages or so are filled with knowledgeable and timely articles about our economic health and future. Some of the articles in last weeks edition included the commercial markets along Route 495, the most recent data breach, commercial defaults, gambling in the Bay State, cyberthieves and more.

The classified section, another 15 or so pages, has listings of commercial opportunities, official records of real estate transactions arranged by county and city, and statistical charts. The statistical charts (broken down by city) show number of sales from one year to the next and the percentage of change, dollar amount of sales, median sales price by month, and number of sales by month.

The final section of the classifieds are the credit records that I spoke about at the beginning. The credit records include voluntary bankruptcies by county and city, chapter 13 bankruptcies, chapter 11 bankruptcies, federal tax liens, state tax liens, attachments, petitions to foreclose, and foreclosure sales.

Saturday, February 07, 2009

Free Materials for Librarians and Educators

Hello, there is a website, that offers free materials for librarians and teachers. It is the educational program of PETA (People for the ethical treatment of animals.) They offer a comic book series for kids, a free subscription to Animal Times magazine, and videos for kids through adults. Cookbooks and general animal protection books are also available.

They share these materials with us to promote their cause, but as librarians we can take advantage in order to have more materials for our patrons on all sides of issues. I can vouch for the cookbooks. Two of them i use quite regularly. Yummy brownie and chocolate chip cookie recipes, "nice cream" recipe, as well healthy stuff that tastes good to vegans, vegetarians and meat eaters.

Thursday, February 05, 2009 for Seniors

You may be aware of the official government web site, Quite a bit to navigate through.

Geared specifically to issues and concerns pertaining to elder Americans, the above link is worth bookmarking to your homepage.

I found it easy to navigate, timely and inclusive. The more on-line services segment is especially useful.

In these difficult times, we need all the help and assistance our government can provide. This is one place to start.

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