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

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Workforce Central

More and more patrons are searching this site for job postings.
Many think they must establish an e-mail account and/or give a social security number. Both are false.
I called the Worcester branch office and asked what is the easiest way to see available positions.
There are five simple steps:

2.Click JobQuest-bottom right hand corner of the page.
3.Click JobQuest again-top right hand corner of the page.
4.Enter a zip code.
5.Scroll down to view job listings.

New positions are posted every Monday.
The majority of those seeking employment just want to see what kinds of jobs are out there.
I find this to be the least frustrating approach for those who have so much to contend with.
Walk the job seeker through it. Believe me, they are the most grateful of patrons.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

How about renting Textbooks?

Due to the rotten economy, more and more students are unable to afford the rising cost of textbooks. The number of library customers looking to borrow textbooks for their course work is mounting. Unfortunately as libraries, we are unable to invest in textbooks for various reasons. To name a few, they disappear from the shelves at an amazing rate, customers who need them tend to hoard them selfishly till the end of the semester and before you know it the current edition gets outdated.

Still, don’t despair yet - your customers do have other options! Online companies that rent textbooks have sprouted up recently. Books can be obtained for a fraction of the price! Different kinds of rental plans are available to students who might be interested in the book for a month, a semester or more. Encourage your students to rent a book, save some cash and better yet - save a tree!

Monday, August 17, 2009

Code of Massachusetts Regulations

"The Massachusetts regulations include every rule, regulation, standard or requirement... adopted by an agency to implement or interpret the law enforced or administered by it..."

So what does this mean for librarians and how can we make better use of the "regs"?

Say, for instance, that a patron came to your library and wanted to know what was required in order for him or her to teach adults basic education in Massachusetts. Most of us are tempted to go right to the Massachusetts general laws to find the answer. If we do that however, we are provided with a scant one and a half pages that give us a few general facts. First, Massachusetts has by law a system for providing certain adults basic education and literacy services. Second, the state will provide professional instructors and monitor service delivery. And lastly, the board of education will determine the methods of instruction and grant certification to teachers who possess the qualifications prescribed by the board (General laws 69:1H).

This information is useful but it does not answer the patrons question of what, specifically, does he or she need to teach adult education. For an answer to this question we must turn to the Code of Massachusetts Regulations. The Worcester Public Library subscribes to the print version of the Code and we have a separate subscription (published privately) to the index. This makes our task relatively simple and painless. However, for those of you who rely on the online version I will walk you through the process.

Access to the online index to the Code can be found at

  • We know that the board of education is the governing agency so we scroll down to the words Education, Department of 603 CMR.
  • When we click on the citation number 603 CMR we are given a list of sections. Since you don't know what you're looking for you must read the title of each section. At the bottom of the list is the section title Licensure of Adult Basic Education Teachers and Preparation Program Approval.

The patron now has 15 pages of definitions, standards and specific requirements and components for licensure in all fields of adult education and literacy.

One drawback to using the online version of the regs is that they are not the "official" version. The official version is only published in hard copy. The state is in the process of transitioning to an official online version but they haven't done so yet. To make sure that you have comprehensive and up-to-date information you can always call the Worcester Public Library and ask us to match the online to the print source.

In any event, the Code of Massachusetts Regulations contains a wealth of information (often overlooked) that could save you and your patron time and effort.

Friday, August 14, 2009

That Most Dreaded Chore

Recently I've been engaged in that most dreaded chore of trying to weed my collection and ; it occurred to me that it might be useful to describe my method and invite others to comment on it or contribute their own methods.

I start by setting a date about 3 or 4 years ago and say that anything that hasn't circulated since then is in jeopardy. I check barcodes in milcirc to get the last circulation date and see if anyone else owns the book.

If I own the only copy of a book in milcirc and it hasn't gone out in my specified time period , I next check the union catalog. If mine is still the only copy in captivity, I conclude that I had better hold on to it. Books that I keep no matter what are those by local authors or on local subjects ( I usually stretch local to include all of New England), classics and books by notable authors. Every now and then there is a book that meets all my criterion for weeding that I just can't make myself part with, when i pardon one of those books I put a little question mark next to the label. That way the next time I weed I can either say it's already had its second chance or congratulate myself on keeping it.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Gale Literature Criticism Online (LCO) and Literature Resource Center (LRC) available at WPL

Remote access to a suite of literature databases from Gale is now available to Worcester Library card holders. The new databases include:

Literature Criticism Online (LCO) is the platform that hosts 10 Gale’s comprehensive literary criticism series. Worcester Public Library has purchased the complete

  • Contemporary Literary Criticism (CLC),
  • Short Story Criticism (SSC),
  • Something about the Author (SATA),
  • Children's Literature Review (CLR).
All those literary series can be cross searched and access remotely.

Literature Resource Center (LRC) is a subscription database that offers literary criticisms, articles, work overviews, and author biographies. Rich in biographical, bibliographical, and critical content. Excellent resource for information on literary figures from all time periods and writings in such genres as fiction, nonfiction, poetry, drama, history, journalism, and more. It delivers most of the content from Dictionary of Literary Biography, most of the content from Contemporary Authors & New Revision, and roughly 60% of CLC, TCLC, NCLC from 1998 forward.

To access:
Go to
Click on Online Databases in the left column
Then select Literature
Access from this blog
Look under WPL Remote Databases in the right column of this blog

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

Thursday, August 06, 2009

Book of the Month

As a new feature to our blog, I would like to introduce a new reference book each month.
My criteria are as follows:
3.Suitable for both small and large libraries
4.Worth the shelf space
5.I find it interesting

I welcome your comments and suggestions for other reference resources.
My choice this month is listed below.

One down....eleven to go!

Michael Allaby, Robert Coenraads, Stephen Hutchinson, Karen McGhee, John O'Byrne and Ken Rubin
The Encyclopedia of Earth
A Complete Visual Guide

$39.95, hardcover
Available Now
608 pages, 10 1/2 x 9 1/4 inches, 1700 color illustrations, 200 line illustrations, 1000 mapsSeptember 2008, Only available in North America, US and TerritoriesAlso in: Atlases & Encyclopedias
Author Bio
This sumptuously illustrated, beautifully written encyclopedia, the best book available on the topic, presents the most up-to-date information about planet Earth in a style and format that will appeal to an extremely wide range of readers. With thousands of photographs, illustrations, diagrams, and maps and a text written by a team of international experts, it presents an impressive overview of our globe—beginning with the history of the universe and ending with today's conservation issues. A truly spectacular reference, The Encyclopedia of Earth offers new visual interpretations of many ideas, concepts, and facts, painting a fascinating picture of Earth today and across the ages. The encyclopedia is divided into six sections that are designed for either browsing or in-depth study. Birth gives an overview of Earth's 4.6-billion-year history, including the evolution of life. Fire explains the inner workings of our dynamic planet, its structure, and the tectonic forces that have molded its landscape. Land surveys rocks, minerals, and habitats. Air covers weather, including extreme weather events such as tornadoes and hurricanes. Water tours the oceans, rivers, and lakes of the world. The final section, Humans, provides a compelling portrait of our relationship with Earth, and of how the natural world has shaped social and political developments. Copub: Weldon Owen Publishing

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