Monday, April 14, 2014

Who Are These People? Researching Life Stories with Gale Biography In Context

Be it science, entertainment, or prose: every subject on the planet is bound together by studying the people involved. That's why the Gale Biography In Context database offers a one-stop shop for learning about the key people in every subject imaginable.

To access this database, visit the library’s website at www.mytpl.org and click Research on the horizontal menu bar near the top of the page.  In the drop down menu, click Databases by Subject.


Next, click on Biography and select Gale Biography In Context.  The link will take you straight to the database.  If you are using a computer outside the library, you will be prompted to enter your library card number to access the site.


Use the search bar on the right to enter a topic as shown on the image below.


Biography In Context will generate a plethora of relevant content from every type of source needed for any research project (including periodicals, academic journals, websites, news articles, videos and related topics) all in one easy to access menu. Selected content from each source type is also displayed on the topic page along with a handy tool box and fact box menu.

  
You can also use the "Browse People" button to look up people by category: American First Ladies, Nobel Peace Prize Winners, Notable Olympians, and many more. You can also search by Occupation, Nationality, and Birthplace. Interested in seeing which famous people were born in Houma? Just click "Birthplace" above the search box, type in Houma, and find out!

If you're looking for information you can trust about notable people, Biography in Context is the place to go!

Rob Jenkins
Reference Associate

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Learning Express Library 3.0: A New Version of a Classic

One of our most highly-recommended databases has an all new look. Whenever patrons ask us for resources on learning better computer skills, preparing for tests like the ACT, SAT, HiSET, and GRE, or improving a many other skills, we send them to Learning Express Library. It's a comprehensive online resource offering ebooks, practice tests, and even video-based tutorials and courses on skills needed throughout the lifespan. The new version, Learning Express 3.0, has a completely redesigned and updated interface.

To see the new Learning Express, go to the library's website at www.mytpl.org and click on Databases by Name. Now click on "L" to find both the new and classic versions (we've left the old one in place, in case people are used to it, and would rather stick with that one.) If you click on the link for Learning Express 3.0 from a computer outside our libraries, you'll see a screen that asks you to enter your library card. Enter the full card number with no spaces, and then you'll come to a screen like this:


Learning Express Library is divided into different "centers" devoted to particular topics such as computer skills, college preparation, high school equivalency tests, and more. You can scroll through the centers in the middle of the page, or click "All Centers" in the navigation bar to see them listed all at once:


Let's take a look at the Popular Software Skills Center, to see how the centers are organized. Say you want to learn more about Microsoft Excel. Click on "Master Microsoft Office" in the middle of the page and you'll go to a page devoted to all the different applications in the Office Suite--you can see them listed on the left side of the page.


It's important to pay attention to the options on the left side, to make sure you see everything Learning Express offers. Now click on "Microsoft Excel." This brings you to a page with tutorials on the latest version of Excel. However, if you notice the bar just above the list of tutorials, you can also click to find a list of tutorials for other versions.


Now simply click "Launch" to start one of the tutorials (or ebooks or practice tests, in other cases). The first time you do, you'll need to create an account with Learning Express. This only takes a few seconds, and it lets you save your favorite resources in a personalized folder, as well as track your progress with courses and practice tests.

Whether you're trying to master a new computer program, practice for a test, or learn new work skills, Learning Express 3.0 is a great place to start. If you have any questions, give the Reference Department a call at 876-5861, extension 2.

Monday, January 27, 2014

Getting Ready for Tax Season: How to Find Forms and File Online

It's that time of year again--tax season is almost upon us. The federal and state income tax filing season begins January 31. The deadline for federal tax returns is Tuesday, April 15, and the deadline for Louisiana income tax returns is May 15.

Federal Forms

All Terrebonne Parish library branches have the most common federal forms, including the 1040, 1040A, and 1040 EZ forms, and their instruction booklets. We also have associated forms, including Schedules A, B, C, C-EZ, D, E, and EIC. If you need other forms, we can print most shorter ones for you free of charge. However, we have to charge 10 cents per page to print out instruction books. All federal forms can be viewed online at www.irs.gov/Forms-&-Pubs. We will be happy to get you on a public computer to view or print the forms you need. If you are an employer or self-employed, you can get forms such as the 1099 (which can be viewed but not printed online) at the Federal Building at 432 Lafayette Street in Houma.

State Forms

As for Louisiana state tax forms, this year the Louisiana Department of Revenue has stopped sending them to libraries. In fact, when we spoke with a representative in Baton Rouge, she said no state forms would be sent anywhere in Terrebonne Parish. To get physical copies of the forms, you have three options. You can print them from the state's website, at bit.ly/lataxforms, starting January 31. You can also order tax forms by phone at 225-219-2113, or order them online at bit.ly/ordertaxforms.

Filing Online

In order to save paper and paperwork, both the federal and state tax agencies are pushing for people to file online. The IRS offers two basic electronic filing systems: Free File, which lets you use choose one of several free software packages provided by a variety of tax preparation services, and E-File, which is for more complicated tax situations. It uses paid versions of tax software and may be completed by your tax preparer. Many of the Free File packages allow you to file state as well as federal returns. The safest way to decide which service to use is to go directly to the IRS online filing page, at: www.irs.gov/Filing. If you want to file your state taxes online separately, you can do that at: bit.ly/lafileonline.

Tax Preparation at the Library

Volunteers with Catholic Charities, working through the IRS' Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) program, will be helping people file their taxes for free at the Main Library on Tuesdays, from February 4th through April 15 (except Mardi Gras day, March 4). They will be here from 9 AM to 3 PM, and help is available on a first-come, first-served basis. To qualify,  you must have earned less than $50,000 in 2013, and less made less than $100 in royalties. For more information about the information and paperwork to bring, go to bit.ly/vitainfo.

If you have any questions about tax forms and preparation at the library, call the Reference Department at 876-5864, option 2. Thanks!

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Fold 3 History and Genealogy Archives

If you're interested in history and genealogy, our newest database may be right down your alley. Fold3 History and Genealogy Archives has over 50 million pages of historical documents, including presidential papers, historic treaties, military rolls, photographs, maps, and more. To access Fold 3, go to the library's homepage at www.mytpl.org and click "Research" on the navigation bar. Then click "Databases by Name" and look for Fold3. If you're outside the library, you'll be asked to enter your library card number, and then you'll see the Fold3 homepage.


The front page has links to many of the resources available within Fold3. However Fold3 itself is just one database in this package--there are also five others to explore, as shown in the image below.


Each of these databases contains a huge number of historical documents. The best way to see what each one offers is to select one from the dropdown menu, and then click "Browse" next to the search box. This opens up a page that lets you see what collections are included in each database, and then explore what's in each collection. For example, the picture below shows how you can pick "City Directories", then pick a city (New Orleans in this case), and then pick a year.


Fold 3 History and Genealogy Archives has so many historic resources that it's hard to give a brief overview. The best way to get started is to simply open it up and start exploring. In the Revolutionary War Archives, for example, you can look through papers from the Continental Congress and the Constitutional Convention, as well as George Washington's wartime correspondence. In Fold 3 itself you can browse milestone documents in American history such as the surrender of Germany or the repeal of prohibition. You can even search through Air Force documents about UFO reports! You never know what kind of records you will stumble across.

If you have any questions about Fold3 History and Genealogy Archives, give us a call at 876-5861, option 2. We hope you enjoy browsing through American history!

Friday, December 6, 2013

Small Engine Repair Reference Center

Do you have a boat, motorcycle, ATV, personal watercraft, or even just a lawnmower or weedeater? Do you like fixing those things yourself, or would you like to learn how? Our new database, Small Engine Repair Reference Center, can help. It gives you access to electronic versions of over 450 repair manuals covering all kinds of small engines, and even a few large ones, like tractors. The complete list of engine types it covers includes:
  • Air-Cooled Engines
  • ATVs
  • Chain Saws
  • Commercial Mowers
  • Diesel Engines
  • Farm Tractors
  • Generators
  • Motorcycles
  • Marine (boats)
  • Outdoor Power Equipment
  • Personal Watercraft/Jet Ski
  • Riding Lawn Mowers
  • Rotary Tillers
  • Snowmobiles
  • Snowthrowers
  • String Trimmers & Blowers
  • Walk-Behind Mowers
  • Yard & Garden Tractors
To get started with Small Engine Repair Reference Center (SERRC), go to the library's homepage at www.mytpl.org. Click on Research in the navigation bar, and then click either Databases by Name or Databases by Subject. SERRC will be in listed in alphabetical order in one, and under Auto and Small Engine Repair in the other. When you click the link, you'll be asked to enter your library card number. This will take you to a page that looks like this:


Now you can click on the type of engine you want to repair. This will bring you to a page with a list of manufacturers.


When you click on one of these, you'll see a list of engine types and years, as in the example below, which just shows part of the list for Evinrude/Johnson motors.


These links will bring you to pages from service manuals. They're PDFs, so they look just like the pages from the manual, complete with images and diagrams. You can download them, print them, or email them to anyone who also has a Terrebonne Parish Library card. If you prefer to search by keyword, you can do that in the search box at the top of the page. If you have any questions, please call the Reference Department at 876-5861, option 2. Good luck with your repairs!

Friday, November 22, 2013

EBSCO Discovery Service: One Database to Rule Them All!

Did you know most of the internet is locked up behind passwords and paywalls? You can find a lot online for free, but there are many magazines, books, journals, and other resources that you can't get without a subscription. Not only that, but what you can access for free, such as Wikipedia, may not be the most reliable sources of information. Luckily, your library card gives you access to dozens of electronic databases offering thousands of news and magazine articles, as well as electronic encyclopedias and 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 look in.

Now we have a solution. EBSCO Discovery Service, or EDS, lets you search almost all of our databases simultaneously, and it even shows you partial results before you login with your library card. To get to EDS, just go to our homepage, and find the box at the bottom that says, "Search our Online Resources." You can also go to our Databases by Name or Databases by Subject page.

We've put together a search box that lets you choose what kind of resource you're looking for:

If you want to search for newspaper and magazine articles, click the "News & Magazines" tab and enter your search in the box below. Clicking the "E-Reference Books" tab lets you search hundreds of online encyclopedias and reference books, in multiple databases. If you're looking for serious scholarly articles, you can search the "Academic Journals" tab. Finally, if you want to cast the widest possible net, you can click on "All Resources." Be warned, though, this will give you an enormous number of results, and most of them will be highly technical journal articles.

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.

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, using the Newspapers and Magazines tab. This gives you nearly 1,300 results, and some of them may not be relevant--some of them are about the Huey P. Long bridge, not the man himself. Now you can click on "Subject" and check the box that says "long, huey pierce, 1893-1935." This will narrow it down to 342 results. If you are mostly interested in newspaper articles, you can click "News" under "Source Types", and narrow it down to 126 results. You can also narrow your search by date range, publisher, database, and more.

If you use our search box, you may notice some extra words in the box after you hit the "Search" button. Those customize your results for each tab, limiting them to "Newspapers and Magazines", or "E-Reference Books", for example. You can leave those words in your search, or remove them, but if you remove them you'll be searching everything--including technical journal articles. That's when its highly advisable to check the box you want in the Source Types area (Magazines, Newspapers, etc), so you just get the kind of publication you want.

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!

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Geaux Vote with Geauxvote.com

It’s that time of year again: voting season. If you’re trying to find out where to vote, what’s on the ballot, or even whether you are registered to vote, the state of Louisiana has a website designed to help called geauxvote.com.

To find your voting information on geauxvote.com, click the “Are You a Voter” link in the middle of the home page.


Click “By Voter” from the choices on the right, and then enter your first name, last name and either your zip code or birth month and year.



You should now see a page that displays your name, political party, voting parish, ward, precinct and voting status.



To view a sample election ballot, click the "Ballot Information" tab located on the same page just above your voter information.  Click “What’s on My Ballot” on the next page, and a sample ballot should soon load. 



Geaux Vote is also offered as a mobile application for both Apple and Android mobile devices.

If you need additional help finding your voter information, stop by the Main Library across from the Civic Center or call the Reference Department at 876-5861, option 2.

Geaux Vote!