Monday, July 27, 2015

Why You Should Be Writing


“We read to know we are not alone.” - William Nicholson

Ever thought "I can tell a better story than this" while reading a book, watching a movie, or digging around online? Then you should be writing. The reference department is presenting a new workshop aiming to get you writing with exercises and peer discussion rather than critiques. The next of these workshops will be Wednesday, August 26th at 7:00pm in the Davidson Board Room on the second floor of the Main Branch.

With a title like "You Should Be Writing," there should be some really good reasons for you to be writing, right? Turns out, there's a bunch, and they all reflect the world,your place in it, and how you change as a person.


Thursday, July 23, 2015

Do-It-Yourself Legal Aid

With money today stretched as tight as many can bear, do-it-yourself services are on the rise. One lawsuit, divorce, or contract can cost a lot if dealt with through a lawyer. For some simple court matters or legal questions, the library can help with books and online resources!

The library reference department has many resources available to help patrons in the building. These sources include primary and secondary legal materials. Primary materials are items containing the law, such as Louisiana Statutes, Civil Code, and U.S. Constitution. Secondary sources are all the resources used to define or interpret primary materials, like Black's Law Dictionary and Gale's Encyclopedia of Law.

Many resources exist online to give legal aid, but which one's can you trust? If you go to the library's page for "Databases by Subject," several resources are listed under Legal Reference, such as the Louisiana State Legislature's searchable laws and The United States Code.

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Other resources that provide context and examples of law include Cornell's Legal Information Institute and Google Scholar. Google Scholar has access to most state and federal court documents published in the last 50 years.

Because of Louisiana's use of the Napoleonic Code in civil cases, statutes and forms for court can be different from district to district or even parish to parish. The Louisiana State Bar Association has set up community resources to help the public find the right documents or representation they need. By visiting the Legal Education & Assistance Program (LEAP) for the public, many resources found in the community can be located. These resources include numbers for lawyer referrals, legal services corporations such as Southeast Louisiana Legal Services, general resources, and court contacts. Documents known as "libguides" contain information about driver's licenses, divorces, Medicaid, unemployment benefits, and several other general topics.

The reference staff are not legal professionals and cannot interpret, recommend, or proofread any legal term or document, but we are happy to help as much as we can to find you the help you need.

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Genealogy at the Library


The library reference staff are gearing up for Genealogy Day at the library! On Saturday, June 27th starting at 10:00am, staff will be available to answer all your questions about the items in the Genealogy Room. That means the books, the microfilm, the online databases… everything!
To get prepared for the day or just in case you can not make it, here are some past posts and current information from the library to help you out!
  • Genealogy Page - The library’s genealogy page on our website contains all the information needed to start the search for your family’s heritage. From forms to print out to database links, this page lists all the information below and more!
  • Genealogy at Terrebonne Parish Library - A brief introduction to genealogy and the genealogy resources at the library, including Ancestry.com (accessible for free inside the library).
  • Genealogy Research: The Next Steps - Some quick advice from a member of the reference staff about how to start researching your family tree.
  • Louisiana Roots: Some Great Local Sources for Genealogy - A guide to print materials in the library’s Genealogy Room centered around local residents. Is your family in there? (Note: some of the links in the article may not work due to a change in our catalog, but the items are in the collection)
  • New Ancestry Resources - You’ve checked all the print books, now what? Check out the database Ancestry.com and the types of materials in it as well as other online information. The best part? The Ancestry database has added even more information to hunt through since this was posted!
  • From Census Data to Family Tree - This article gives an outline of the United States and local parish census records, and how they can help with researching your family tree.
  • Fold3 History and Genealogy Archives - Looking for old newspapers, city directories, or other archived items? This article explains the basics of our Fold3 and Genealogy archives databases that cover a range of published materials. (To use the Fold3 from home, you will need a library card and PIN. Come in or contact the library at (985) 876-5861, option 2 if you need assistance.)
  • HeritageQuest Online - This database is similar to Ancestry.com, containing census and other genealogical research data from that site. The main difference is you can use this one from home! Simply go to the library’s website (mytpl.org), click on the “Genealogy” link on the right hand side, find the link and search away!

Monday, June 22, 2015

Keep Internet Searching Simple

You found your way to this entry! Take a moment to congratulate yourself, sit back, and think about how this whole Internet thing is not so bad after all. And what's the big deal? All human knowledge collected in millions of computers sharing... well, lots of knowledge per second. And you worked it out to find this page. Go you!

One question: How did you find this web page once you decided what you were looking for? Could you do it again? For any question? If I asked you to find out who created the Chauvin Sculpture Garden, could you do that? How do you know the source is reliable?

The answer is pretty easy if you just keep Internet searching simple. By using simple language and tools, you can find anything on the Internet you want and keep out most of the things you do not.

Search Simple Words and Phrases

The first step in keeping Internet searching simple is to cut out unneeded words. Computer scientists build new computers every day to understand more and more. Most computers, however, still cannot understand the language humans speak to each other, or natural language. Most computers use a form of "keyword searching," which means they search for the words you give them.
So to keep searching simple, you would search for the simple phrase "Chauvin Sculpture Garden." For most modern search engines, spelling, punctuation, and capitalization do not matter much, as in the example below.

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When you use simple words and phrases, you give the search engine much more to work with, and you get more results to look through.

The Internet As a Town

If you want to simplify the Internet, think of it like a large town. Areas of town are zoned for schools, government buildings, shopping, and homes. To find the best information in a town, you go to the right building. The Internet is divided in the same way, and this can be used depending on what information you need.

When you need to learn accurate information, where do you go in your community?  Schools and government departments exist to provide information and services for the community. The same thing happens on the Internet. Educational and government sites contain the best, accurate research resources. Links for education use ".edu" and government use ".gov”  

Say you were writing a paper or wanted a researched source for the “Chauvin Scultpure Garden” saying who built it, who takes care of it now, and where it is. A search for "Chauvin Sculpture Garden" contains links from Nicholls State University (shown below in green) because they have researched the history of the sculpture garden and care for it.

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The most common type of website is ".com." This means a website is "commercial,” the shopping center of the Internet. Many ".com" websites are great sources of information, but their goal is to make money. The information might be good or not, and there is no way to tell without more research. These websites are best for buying materials or finding basic information on a topic. For example, say I wanted to build a model of the “Chauvin Sculpture Garden” rather than have information on it. I would search for “sculpture supplies” to find business where I could buy my materials, either locally or online, or to learn how to start sculpting. For more indepth knowledge, I would go to a school that teaches sculpting.

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Some other common website extensions are ".org" and ".net." Organizations (.org) often include non-profits and charities, but anyone can buy an “.org” website. Examples of good organization websites for information are the Red Cross and the Terrebonne Parish Library websites. Both are long lasting institutions known in the community. If you are not aware of who runs the website, it is often best to be wary of their information.

One of the largest ".org" websites is Wikipedia, a popular online encyclopedia edited and created by users. Be aware that Wikipedia's information can change often, even many times an hour depending on the subject. Many classrooms of all levels of education ban the use of Wikipedia because of how unreliable its information can be.

The ".net" extension was first used by networking companies, such as AT&T and Comcast, but has become a place for personal websites. Just like anyone can start a non-profit “.org,” anyone can use the “.net” to build a home on the Internet. As sources of information, treat “.net” sites as if you were visiting a neighbor. If you know the person well and trust them, they may be a good place for you to learn, but very few teachers would accept them as trustworthy research.

More Ways to Filter Media

Often when searching, you can simplify a search by filtering out much of the internet. A current event? An image? A video?  Search engines filter information into news, images, videos and more. Google, Bing, and Yahoo each have different buttons to search the Internet for other media. Clicking the buttons for images, video, or news while searching can narrow down what type of information you need.

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Good Searching

English journalist Miles Kington said, “Knowledge is knowing that a tomato is a fruit, wisdom is not putting it in a fruit salad.” The advice above can start you on the way to finding better information and resources. The best information for you, however, depends on your desire to find it. The Internet is a big place and full of wonderful things, much like the world around you. Trial and error may be needed. With practice, anyone can learn the best places to go for the information they need. Good searching!

Other links from the blog that can help with searching:

Most popular American search engines

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Every Hero Has A Story: Summer Reading Program 2015


Not sure what kind of summer you're going to have? How about a superhero summer?! The whole family can get involved with the library’s Summer Reading Program "Every Hero Has a Story," from adults to pre-k. Sign up starting May 26th online or come into the library anytime or during an event!

Adults

Make your summer a family affair of reading by signing up for the ADULT summer reading program. Read a total of 3 library books, eBooks, or magazines and be entered into a drawing to win a free Kindle Fire HD 7. All participants that complete will receive a Library Superhero lawn sign and coupon!

7th – 12th grade Teens

Read 3 library books, eBooks, graphics novels, or magazines and receive a certificate, cool coupons, Library Superhero lawn sign, and a chance to win a free Kindle Fire HD 7!

4th – 6th grade Kids (Tweens)

Read 5 library books and receive a certificate, a chance to win a bike, coupons for FREE STUFF, a Library Superhero lawn sign, and a chance to win a bike! Turn your summer into an adventure with weekly story times, craft workshops, and special performers.

Pre-K – 3rd grade Kids

Read 10 library books (or parents, read 10 library books to younger children) and receive a certificate, coupons for FREE STUFF, a Library Superhero lawn sign, and a chance to win a bike! Turn your summer into an adventure with weekly story times, craft workshops, and special performers.
A big THANK YOU to our sponsors for making this year’s Summer Reading Programs possible. View sponsors here.

View our SPECIAL EVENTS this summer for the whole family.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Access Video on Demand: 18,000 Videos Online

Are you a fan of documentaries?  Were you the kind of kid who couldn't wait for the teacher to show a film in class?  Maybe you're still that kind of kid?  If so, we have a great database for you.  Access Video on Demand offers over 18,000 informative videos and documentaries.  You can watch videos from the BBC, the History Channel, Ken Burns, PBS, Scientific American Frontiers, and many more.

To explore the videos, go to bit.ly/mytplvideo. You will be asked for your library card number, and then you're in!  (If you are at one of our library computers, you can skip the library card login by clicking this link instead, but it only works from within the library.)

Once you login to Access Video on Demand, we recommend that you create a user account.  This allows you bookmark your favorite videos, and even make video playlists. To browse videos by subject, you can scroll down the home page to view thumbnail images of popular videos, or click Collections, as in the image below. You can use the search box to search for videos by keyword.  Each video is divided into labeled segments, and you can search for segments about a certain topic by selecting "By Segments" in the search box.  If you want to find entire videos on a topic, change this to "By Title".


If you have a particular producer you like, such as Ken Burns or the BBC, click on "Featured Producers". This shows you a selection of production companies:


Whatever your interests, you're sure to find a video you enjoy in Access Video on Demand!

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

One Database to Rule Them All! EBSCO Discovery Service

Did you know most of the information on the internet is locked up behind passwords and paywalls? You can find a lot online for free, but many magazines, books, journals, and other resources aren't accessible without a subscription. Not only that, but what you can access for free, such as Wikipedia, may not be the most reliable source of information.

Luckily, your library card gives you access to dozens of electronic databases, which offer thousands of newpaper and magazine articles, plus electronic reference books written by experts in their fields. The only problem is, we have so many databases, it's hard to know which one to use.

Now we have a solution. EBSCO Discovery Service, or EDS, lets you search almost all of our databases simultaneously. To get to EDS, go to our Databases by Name or Databases by Subject page and click on the link at the top.

Once you enter your search terms and hit "Search", you'll see a page that looks like this:




This is the Guest Access page, which just shows the title and format of your results. To see summaries and read the articles, click on "Login for full access" at the top of the page, and enter your library card number.

Here's the important thing about EDS: for many searches, you'll get thousands of results. It will help if you narrow things down using the "Refine Results" column on the left side of the page.

For example, if you're looking for information on Huey P. Long, you can type "Huey Long" into the search box. This gives a huge number of results. The first thing you can do to narrow your results down is click "Magazines", "Newspapers", etc., on the left side of the page (see picture).

You may also notice that some of your results aren't relevant. For example, some may be about the Huey P. Long bridge, not the man himself. You can fix this by clicking on "Subject" and checking the box that says "long, huey pierce, 1893-1935." This will narrow your results down to just the articles about him. You can also narrow your search by date range, publisher, database, and more. EDS gives you so many results, it's almost always best to narrow them down.

There's a huge amount of information our databases, and EBSCO Discovery Service helps you find it...without making you guess which database to look in. If you have any questions about using EDS, give the Reference Department a call at 876-5861, ex. 2. Happy searching!