Friday, November 11, 2011

Honoring our Veterans

This Veterans Day, we would like to honor those who served by highlighting some good resources for and about veterans. Terrebonne Parish Library has a wide range of books about veterans and their experiences at war and coming home.  We also have books for veterans; covering topics such as applying for veteran's benefits, adjusting to life back home, and finding careers after the military.  For a list of books for and about veterans, click here.

We also have many videos on the veteran experience. These are available for online streaming through our video database, Access Video on Demand.  To sign in and view the videos, you will need a password and user id.  You can get these by calling the reference department at 876-5861, option 2. Simply log on and search for "veterans". 

We have also put together a list of great online resources for veterans and their families:
With honor and respect to all our veterans.  Thank you!

Monday, October 31, 2011

Dancing at the Werewolf Ball: The Loup Garou/Rougarou

Louisiana has more than its fair share of creepy places and legends. The Myrtles Plantation in St. Francisville is billed as "One of America's Most Haunted Homes," and in the cemeteries of New Orleans, you can still go and see the grave of Marie Lavau, the famous "Voodooo Queen." There are legends of Jean Lafitte's treasure, guarded by ghostly pirates. If you want to scare yourself, Louisiana is a good place to do it. And if you want to learn more about our state's scary traditions, the library is a good place to do that.

One of the most distinctive Louisiana legends is the loup garou or rougarou, a werewolf-like creature said to inhabit the swamps. For generations, Cajun parents told their children to behave, or the loup garou would come get them. But lots of the grownups believed it themselves; looking over their shoulder nervously while walking home on dark nights.

Where did this legend come from? For Cajuns, it can be traced to Nova Scotia, and then to France. Stories about werewolves actually have a long history throughout Europe. One of the oldest is a Greek legend in which Zeus turns a man named Lycaon into a wolf. The name "Lycaon" comes from the Greek word lykos, or wolf, and Lycanthropy is the fancy name for werewolfism. The were in werewolf comes from an Old English word meaning "man."

In the old European legends, people didn't usually become werewolves after being bitten by another werewolf. Some were thought to be were transformed against their will by sorcerers. These reluctant werewolves were filled with regret when they woke up and remembered the savage things they had done the night before. Sometimes the sorcerers turned themselves into wolves using spells and charms, and then terrorized the countryside at night.

One method of becoming a werewolf was to wear a cloak or belt made of wolf skin. This story may have some basis in fact. Some vikings and other marauders really did wear the skins of fierce animals, not just to stay warm, but also because they believed they could absorb the animal's ferocity. The crazed viking warriors called berserkers (from whom we get the word "berserk") wore bear skins (the word actually means "bear shirt"). Other vikings wore wolf skins, for similar reasons. During the Middle Ages, European forests were home to many wolves, but they were also home to bands of dangerous outlaws. Some were said to wear animal skins, and groups of them sometimes even howled like wolves to terrify their victims. Lone killers may have also given rise to werewolf legends. The psychologist Stephen Pinker points out that serial killers like Jack the Ripper have existed throughout history. A few monsters certainly exist, whether you believe in the supernatural or not.

Of course, at the time the werewolf legends originated, most people didn't consider them legends. They believed in werewolves, along with witches, fairies, and a whole host of other supernatural creatures. Fear of werewolves reached its peak during the Inquisition. As many as 30,000 suspected werewolves were executed in Europe between the 1520's and the 1630's, sometimes by mobs, and often by the authorities. During this time werewolves, like witches, were usually thought to be in league with the devil.

In France, the werewolf was known as loup garou. Loup means wolf (the scientific name for wolves is Canis lupus), while garou may actually come from an older phrase that meant "werewolf."  If this is true, than loup garou actually means "wolf werewolf".  Some have suggested that garou may come from gardez-vous, which means "Be careful!"  This is an appealing theory, but alas, it probably isn't true.

In the French tradition, people became loup garous after missing too many masses or confessions, skipping Lent for seven years in a row, or being cursed by a witch. French loup garous were said to be like vampires, in that they could turn others into loup garous by biting them or sucking their blood. In both France and Louisiana, people with long nails, red eyes, or a single eyebrow were suspected of being loup garous.

In Louisiana, the loup garou is sometimes called a rougarou, or roux-ga-roux (this is what they are usually called in Terrebonne Parish). Louisiana loup garous have some especially interesting habits. They are said to ride enormous bats, for one thing, and they gather along Bayou Goula and--in true Louisiana style--have a rowdy werewolf ball. According to the book Gumbo Ya-Ya: A Collection of Louisiana Folk Tales, "Loup-garous have bats as big as airplanes to carry them where they want to go. They make these bats drop them down the chimney, and they stand by your bed and say 'I got you now, me!' Then they bit you and suck your blood and that makes you a loup-garou, and soon you find yourself dancing at their balls at Bayou Goula and carrying on just as they do. You're a lost soul." Of course, it could be worse... you may be a werewolf, but you still get to go to parties.

While bullets (even silver ones) are useless, loup garou can easily be scared away by frogs. This is odd, since they live in swamps full of frogs. They must be nervous monsters. They also seem to be a little bit obsessive. Some say a screen door will stop a loup garou, because it will will stop to try to count all the holes. Even hanging a colander on the outside of a door can stop them, because they will count the holes in that. (Other Louisiana monsters can be stopped in the same way. The cauchemar, a witch who jumps on people's backs while they are sleeping--and may ride them around the room or even down the stairs--is often said to be obsessed with counting things.)

However, this is all secondhand knowledge for this librarian. I'm from Arkansas, so I never heard stories of the loup garou growing up. The people who really know Louisiana legends like the loup garou and the cauchemar are the ones who listened as children, wide-eyed, as the grownups told scary stories... wondering if they were true or not. Did you grow up hearing stories of the loup garou or other creatures of the night? If so, let us know in the comments!

Recommended Reading

The Better Angels of our Nature : Why Violence has Declined / Steven Pinker.

Contemporary Cauchemar: Experience, Belief, Prevention

The Gale Encyclopedia of the Unusual and Unexplained

Gumbo Ya-Ya : A Collection of Louisiana Folk Tales

He Creeps, He Crawls, He Conquers: The Rougarou--A Louisiana Folklore Legend

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Wondering How To Pay For College? Come to Our Financial Aid Workshop!

To help students and parents learn about college financial aid opportunities, the Terrebonne Parish Main Library is hosting a Financial Aid Workshop on Tuesday, October 25th from 6 pm to 8 pm. The event is free and open to the public.

According to a recent report by the College Board, average tuition and fees for the 2010-2011 school year at a four-year public university was $7,605 for state residents and $19,595 for out-of-state residents. The tuition increased 7.9% increase from last year. If you add room and board, the average tuition and fees for state residents totals $16,140. Room and board for out of state residents totals $28,130. The average tuition at a four year private university for the academic year 2010-2011 is $27,293 and if one adds room and board to this figure, the total increases to $36,993.

Tuition fees are steep and getting steeper. But help is available. Louisiana high school students who attend college in Louisiana can be exempt from tuition if they meet certain academic standards at graduation from high school. This program is called the Taylor Opportunity Program for Students, commonly referred to as TOPS.

The Financial Aid Workshop at the library will feature representatives from the Louisiana Office of Student Financial Assistance and Nicholls State University. They will speak about state scholastic programs, and offer instruction on completing out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) form. Staff will speak about private scholarships given by local organizations for students who meet certain academic standards.

To sign up, just call the Reference Department at 876-5861, option 2. Walk-ins are also welcome.  Hope to see you there!

-Carlos Crockett, Reference Associate

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Geaux Vote with

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 new website designed to help, called  

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

This will bring you to a page offering several links with useful election information.  To find personal or local voting information, click “Am I a Voter?”  

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

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 smart phones.

Additionally, a guide to the proposed state constitutional amendments on this year’s ballot can be found here, courtesy of the Public Affairs Research Council of Louisiana. 

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!

Robert Jenkins
Reference Associate

Monday, September 26, 2011

Kindle Library Books Are Here! How to Check Them Out.

Hey Kindle users, have you been wishing you could check out e-books from the library?  Well,  now you can, and it's really easy! has put together a brief introduction to checking out library books, which is available here.  For more detailed information, see below.

Registering Your Kindle

The Kindle library book checkout process works in cooperation with  The first thing you will need is an Amazon account, so you can register your Kindle. If you have already been downloading books from onto a Kindle, then you are registered.  You can skip ahead to the next section.  If you just bought a Kindle, or you're thinking about getting one, this webpage shows you how to connect to the internet (using Wi-Fi or 3G, depending on your device) and register directly from your Kindle.

During this process, you will be asked to enter your email address, choose a password, and enter your payment information (credit card or gift card number).  Of course, the great thing about checking out library books on a Kindle is that you don't need payment information.  If you don't plan to buy books from Amazon, you can skip entering your payment information -- just use your computer to sign up for your Amazon account instead of creating the account from your Kindle device.  This method may also be easier for people who would rather use a full-sized keyboard.  Go to on your computer, and click on "Sign In."  This will take you to a page that looks like this:

Simply enter your email address and click  "I am a new customer." Follow the steps to set up an account.  If you plan on purchasing books, enter your payment information.  Otherwise, leave that part blank.  Then, on your Kindle, hit the "Menu" button, choose "Settings," and then "Register."  Now enter the email address and password you entered on the Amazon website.

Checking Out Books to Your Kindle

Now you're ready to check out books.  Go to our webpage, at, and click "Online Catalogs."  From the dropdown menu, choose "Download eBooks and Audiobooks). 

This will take you to a page that looks like this: 

Most of our eBooks are now available for Kindle.  You can search for particular genres, but the fastest way to find Kindle books is to click on the box that says "Now Available:  Library Books for Kindle."  If you have a particular book you are looking for, simply enter the author or title in in the search box.  When you find a book you want to check out, click "Add to Cart."  This brings you to a screen like this:
Now click "Proceed to Checkout."  Then you will see this page:


Choose Terrebonne Parish Library, then enter your library card number and your PIN.  Your PIN is a 6 digit version of your birthday.  For example, if you were born on June 15, 1970, your PIN would be 061570.  If you have any trouble signing in, give us a call at 985-876-5861, option 2, and we can help.  The next page you see looks like this:

On this page, you can choose your checkout period; either 7 or 14 days.  Then click "Confirm Checkout."  Now you come to this page:

Click "Get for Kindle."  This will open a new web page on  Enter your Amazon login information, and you will be come to a page with a box similar to this:
When you click "Get Library Book," the book will be transmitted to your Kindle via Wi-Fi.

Please note that Kindle library books can't be transmitted through 3G, so if you have a newer Kindle with both Wi-Fi and 3G, make sure it's connected to a wireless network.  If you don't have access to a wireless network, or if you have an older Kindle that only has 3G, you can download the book to your computer, and then transfer it to your Kindle with its USB cable.  This link has instructions for USB transfers. 

This process may seem a little complicated at first, but it gets very easy once you've done it a couple of times.  If you're a Kindle user with a library card, you now have nearly 2,000 Kindle library books to choose from.

We also take requests! If there are books you'd like to see us add to the library's e-book collection, please let us know.  You can submit a purchase request at  Under "Format" one of your many options is e-book. Or give us a call at 876-5861, option 2, and tell us what you'd like to read!

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Eyes of an Eagle: A New Book about Early Houma/Terrebonne History


Christopher Cenac, Sr., M.D., with Claire Domangue Joller, has just released a well-researched and heavily-documented history of the Cenac family, the Louisiana oyster industry, and Terrebonne Parish. Well over 1,200 photographs illustrate the chapters, which alternate between historical fiction and straightforward narrative, and cover approximately 100 years of Terrebonne Parish history. Carl A. Brasseaux, Ph.D., writes in a forward to the book that it fills a void in the history of this area for the periods of Civil War and its aftermath.

Jean-Pierre Cenac, one of 8 children, was born in a small town in the south of France. As a young man, he sailed from Bordeaux, France, to New Orleans. It took his ship bearing 88 passengers two months to cross the Atlantic. After coming through South Pass, the ship traveled for 3 days up the Mississippi to New Orleans, finally offloading in Algiers.

Jean-Pierre’s arrival in 1860 took place just a few months before Louisiana joined the Confederacy. Perhaps because of war talk in New Orleans, perhaps because of his friendship with Jean Marie Dupont, who came from a neighboring village in France and at the time lived in Houma, Jean-Pierre joined him there.

Jean-Pierre began to prosper in Houma as a baker, marrying Victorine Fanguy after the war and with her, raising his fourteen children in Dulac. Jean-Pierre was successful in various businesses, firmly establishing himself and his sons as oyster harvesters and, ultimately, as packers and shippers. The Cenac family was instrumental in establishing the oyster industry as we know it today.

The book contains many well-reproduced pictures which would be of great interest to the general reader, including one of Houma’s first telephone book, which was only one page long; paper money printed in Houma and surrounding areas at the time of the Civil War; and vividly-colored labels of some of the first cans of oysters. As you read through this book, odds are you will learn many facts about early Terrebonne that you didn’t know before. And as you turn the pages, you will see this area as Jean-Pierre Cenac and your local ancestors once saw it. The book is available for checkout through the Terrebonne Parish Library System.

The Main Library will be hosting a book launch and first signing for Dr. Cenac's book, on Sunday, September 25th, from 2-4 PM.  Come and meet the author of this fabulous new book about our local history!

Judith Soniat

Monday, September 19, 2011

Shiver me timbers, it's Talk Like a Pirate Day!

Avast ye maties!  'Tis September 19th, 2011, which be International Talk Like A Pirate Day.

If ye be shivering in ye boots because ye pirate speech be rusty, fear not.  Ye Terrebonne Parish Public Liberry have just what ye need to be speakin like a pirate in the wink of ye parrot's eye.  There a be a whole course just for the asking in how to talk like a pirate, and it be free as the wind in yer sails.

Hoist ye mainsails and head to and see if ye spy "Languages" in the list of all the many databases ye liberry be offering ye.  Click on the word "Languages" and ye will see the very first option is "Mango Languages."  Click on that there mango.  If ye are not in yer liberry, ye will next need to enter yer liberry card number to reach yer destination.  No liberry card?  Walk the plank!

Once ye are in Mango, ye can set up an account that won't cost ye a penny if ye wish to keep track of yer progress.  Or ye can skip to the chase and just click on the "Start Learning" button.

Next ye will see a list of the many languages ye can learn, and nary a language be spoken that might not come in handy fer a pirate circling the globe.  Fer yer pirate speech ye want to click this here "Pirate" link pictured here off ye port bow.

Arrr, me hearty!  Ye be hauling wind smartly now, and well on ye way to speakin' pirate like the scurvy knaves ye be!

- Jen Hamilton, Cap'n of Yer Reference Services Crew

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Come Learn about our Career Cruising Database!

Thinking of changing careers? Perhaps you're still in school, and trying to decide with career is right for you?  The Career Cruising database at Terrebonne Parish Library can help you plan a career path and move forward in your new career.  We are offering an introduction to this great resource Monday, September 12th, at 7 pm.  If you're interested in attending, please give us a call to register, at 876-1733, ex. 2.  To start using Career Cruising now, read on!

First, go to the the library website at  Select "Online Databases", then "Careers", and then Career Cruising.  If you're outside of the library, you will be prompted to select the parish you live in, and enter your library card number. This brings you to the main page: 

As the links at the top of the page show, Career Cruising helps you do five things:
  • Learn more about your interests, and get career suggestions
  • Get in-depth information about particular careers
  • Explore schools and training programs
  • Find jobs and learn job-seeking skills
  • Create a custom portfolio 
The last item is important, because creating a portfolio allows you to bookmark careers and schools, save career assessments, and create a customized resume.  We recommend that you start by creating an account, so you can start your portfolio.  Simply click on "Create a Portfolio" in the Portfolio Login box, and enter your information.

When you've created your account, you are ready to get started.  Simply click on the heading that interests you (as shown in the image to the left).  If you are trying to decide on a career, we recommend doing these in order, starting with "Explore Assessments", and then "Explore Careers".  If you already know your career interests, you can go to "Education and Training" to look for schools.  If you're ready to start job searching, you can go straight to "Employment".

Stay tuned for our next blog post, where we will go into more detail about each of these features.   For face to face instruction on Career Cruising, we encourage you to come to our talk.  Once again, it's on Monday, September 12, at 7 pm.  Registration is required, so give us a call, and we will sign you up!  876-1733, ex. 2.

Carlos B. Crockett, Reference Associate
Ross Mays, Reference Librarian

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Keeping an Eye on the Weather

A tropical storm appears to be brewing in the Gulf, and Terrebonne Parish may see some rain this weekend.

If you are concerned about flooding and possible evacuation orders, the Terrebonne Parish Government keeps a running list of any such alerts, which you can find by clicking here.

If you just want to keep an eye on the weather, this is a great time to check out the many features of the Weather Underground web site. At the Weather Underground main page, tap in your zip code where it says "Enter your location."

Click this link to check out the current forcast for Houma 70360.

As the image to the right shows, we have a flash flood watch alert for our area at the time of this post.

A click on the "Flash Flood Watch" link to the right of the orange triangle brings up the most recent details released by the National Weather Service about that alert.

One of my favorite features of Weather Underground is the ability to see where the weather information is collected, and to choose the data collection station closest to you. You can even choose stations in the Gulf of Mexico.

Click on the "Station Select" button just under the blue Weather at a Glance bar. A map will appear that shows you the locations of nearby weather stations. The currently chosen station is in orange, and the rest are blue.

A click on any of the stations will reset the page to give you the weather and forecast for that spot.

For a broader choice of stations in your region, look below the radar image for a link to the WunderMap®

The WunderMap® can give you all sorts of information, including currently projected storm paths, using the many options listed to the right of the map. The weather stations are shown as colored circles with the current temperature listed inside. Mouse over any station for the name. Click on a station to see a pop-up window that provides current weather and forecast.

More to come on cool Weather Underground features in future posts!

- Jen Hamilton, Reference Services Supervisor

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

How to Find Free Public Domain E-books

Terrebonne Parish Library offers a wide range of e-books you can download to your computer or electronic device. Because most of these books are copyrighted, we purchase them, just like print books; and you check them out for a limited amount of time, just like print books. But not all books are copyrighted. In fact, most of the world's great classics are now in the public domain.

Generally speaking, any book published before 1923 is in the public domain in the United States. This means the works of Plato, Shakespeare, Jane Austen, Mark Twain, and thousands of other authors can be obtained online--legally and for free. Terrebonne Parish Library's E-Library page offers access to thousands of free public domain books, in partnership with Project Gutenberg, one of the largest repositories of public domain books. Just click the link on the the left side of the page that looks like this:

This will take you to a page that lets you search for books by keyword. If you want to search by title or author, you may want to go to Project Gutenberg itself. Simply search for the author or title you want to read. For example, if you searched for Alice's Adventures in Wonderland, you would find several different versions of the book. Clicking on the top one takes you to a page that looks like this:

This shows all the different file formats the book is available in. You can click on HTML to read the book on your computer, but most e-book readers are more compatible with PDF and EPUB ebooks. EPUB is usually the best choice for readers such as the Nook and Sony Reader, because it is designed specifically for e-readers. If you have a Kindle, there is usually a Kindle-formatted version available. Each e-reader works a little differently, and there are so many of them that it is impossible to explain how to download free e-books in a blog post. However, it is usually easy to find instructions online for each device.

Of course, Project Gutenberg is just one of the most famous providers of free e-books. There are many others, of varying quality, which can be found online. Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and the Sony Reader store also have sections devoted to free ebooks. These include public domain books, as well as copyrighted works that are being given away, usually by new authors who are trying to get their work noticed. These also vary in quality, but there is always the possibility of discovering a great new author.

If you need help downloading public domain ebooks, just give the Reference Department a call at 876-1733, option 2.

Happy free e-reading!

Thursday, August 11, 2011

South Louisiana Vital Family Records v. 14 Released


The 14th volume of the South Louisiana Vital Family Records series compiled and published by the Terrebonne Genealogical Society has just arrived! This most recent book covers the years 1942-1943 and contains abstractions of marriage bonds and licenses held by the offices of the Clerks of Court for Assumption, Lafourche and Terrebonne Parishes.

The book is cross-indexed by the family names of the bride and the groom. If parents are named are in the original documents, their names are noted in parentheses. A complete citation follows each record so the researcher can easily find a copy of the original in the relevant courthouse.

The series, which begins with records from 1902-1905, is available from the Terrebonne Parish Genealogical Society; P. O. Box 20295; Houma LA 70360, at a cost of $30 a volume plus $3 postage. Terrebonne Parish Library’s genealogy collection holds multiple copies of each volume. Library staff will happily show you where they’re shelved and how to use them.

Friday, August 5, 2011

Lafourche Heritage Society Seminar, August 6, Schedule of Events

Envie Banquet Facility, Thibodaux, Louisiana
Saturday, August 6, 2011
$28, payable at the door, but lunch will not be included.

8:30 a.m. to 9:15 a.m.:
Registration, coffee,
Visit with book vendors & displays.


9:15 a.m. to 9:30 a.m.:

9:30 a.m. to 10:15 a.m.:
First session:
Neil Guilbeau
U.S. Veterans of Southeast Louisiana: An Oral History

10:15 a.m. to 10:45 a.m.:
Half hour coffee break,
Visit with book vendors & displays.

10:45 a.m. to 11:30 a.m.:
Second session:
Jay M. Schexnaydre
Old Creole Families of River Road

11:30 a.m. to noon;
Break to allow Envie staff
to set up buffet tables.
Visit with book vendors & displays.

Noon to 1:15 p.m.:
Buffet Lunch
(For pre-registrants)


1:15 p.m. to 2:00 p.m.:
Third session:
Emilie “Lee” Gagnet Leumas, PhD
Catholicism and French in Louisiana

2:00 p.m. to 2:15 p.m.:
Coffee break & visit with displays.

2:15 p.m. to 3:00 p.m.:
Fourth session:
Christopher E. Cenac, Sr., M.D.
The History of the Cenac Family and the Early Oyster Industry in Terrebonne Parish

3:00 p.m. to 3:30 p.m.:

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Lafouche Heritage Society Seminar

The 35th Annual History and Genealogy Seminar presented by the Lafourche Heritage Society will take place this Saturday, August 6th, at Envie Restaurant, 203 North Canal Boulevard, Thibodaux, Louisiana. Coffee and registration begin at 8:30 a.m.; the seminar will end at approximately 4:30 p.m. The restaurant is located next to the Howard Johnson motel, near the intersection of Canal Boulevard and Bayou Lafourche.

The cost of the seminar is $28, which can be paid at the door. Those who register and pay their fees before the end of the day, August 3rd, will be entitled to a buffet lunch. Email or

The four speakers will be Dr. Christopher E. Cenac, Sr., local physician and author; Emilie Gagnet Leumas, Ph.D., Director of Archives and Records for the Archdiocese of New Orleans; Jay M. Schexnaydre, president of the Genealogical Research Society of New Orleans; and Neil J. Guilbeau, Assistant Archivist at Nicholls State University.

Organizers have not announced the order of speakers, but the presentations will begin at approximately 9 and 10: 30 a.m., 1:30 and 3 p.m. When you come, bring your charts and other displays; there will be space to show and share.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Finding Popular Magazines in Our Online Databases

Once upon a time, if you wanted to read a magazine, you would need to find it in the library, subscribe to it, or buy the latest issue in a store.  These days, you can read many articles just by going to the magazine's website.  But you can't read everythingTime Magazine, for example, has recently started requiring payment for selected articles. Many other magazines do the same, and different ones allow different levels of online access. A few magazines that rely mainly on advertisements give you access to just about everything.  Some give you recent articles free, but charge for access to back issues.  Others don't offer online back issues at all.  It's hard to know how much access a particular magazine allows.  Generally, you just have to go to the website and see if it lets you keep reading the articles.  But what if it doesn't?

Let's say you're looking for a magazine article from five years ago.  You go to the magazine's website, but they don't have online access going that far back, or they are charging more than you want to pay.  Here's where the library may be able to help.  There's a good chance you can find that article in one of our online databases.  We have databases with articles from a wide range of popular magazines: Rolling Stone, Field & Stream, US News & World Report, Ebony, Louisiana Life, and thousands more.  As with many of our online resources, you don't even need to come to the library to read them.  All you all you need is an internet connection and a library card.

In this post, we will highlight some of the magazines available through MasterFILE Premier; a general-purpose database for public libraries.  To access this database, go the library's website, at  Then go to "Online Databases", on the left side of the page, and then click "All-Purpose Databases and Encyclopedias", at the top of the database categories.  This will bring you to a screen that looks like this:

To find a particular magazine, click on "Publications", at the top right.  This will open a page like this:

In the lower search box, you can search by title, or you can check the "By Subject and Description" button, and search for magazines and other publications about particular subjects.  If you find the magazine you are looking for, and it is available in full text, it may come in two different formats.  Some are available in HTML full text, which means the text of articles is available, but not the images.  The ones available in PDF full text, however, contain images of pages scanned from the print version of magazine.  This means they include all the pictures and other graphics.  For a list of just a few of the popular magazines in MasterFILE Premier, see the end of this post.

Looking up particular magazines is good if you want to stick to just one title.  But what if you're simply looking for a good article, and don't care which magazine you find it in?  Here's where databases like MasterFILE Premier really shine, because they allow you to search many sources at once.  MasterfileFILE Premier has full-text articles from thousands of magazines and journals, so you're very likely to find an article on the topic you are looking for.  You can search for keywords simply by entering them in the main search box, or you can click on "Advanced Search", and specify that you are searching for a particular author or subject.

If you don't find the article you need in Masterfile Premier, you may be able to find it in one of our other databases.  One good thing to know about MasterFILE Premier is that it's just one of many databases offered through EBSCOhost, most of which have the same interface.  You can switch to another database or search more than one database at a time, by clicking on "Choose Databases", just above the search box. This displays the pop-up window shown below.  Simply click the databases you want to search.

If you want to find out more about any of the databases listed, hover your mouse over the icon to the right of each title, and a description of the database will pop up.  Each database has a very different range of articles.  Some, such as Academic Search Complete, are aimed at college researchers, while others, such as Primary Search, are aimed at grade school children.  Others, such as Bibliography of Native North Americans, focus on one particular topic.  Whatever information you're looking for, chances are your library has a database that can help you!


General Interest and News
  • Economist (HTML 1990 - Present)
  • Harper's Magazine (HTML 1992 - 2007)
  • Newsweek (HTML 1990 - Present)
  • New Yorker (HTML 2004 - Present)
  • Time (HTML 1990 - Present)
  • US News & World Report (PDF and HTML1990 - Present)
  • Vanity Fair (HTML 2005 - Present)
    African American Interest
    • Black Enterprise (PDF and HTML 2001 - Present)
    • Ebony (PDF and HTML 1945 - Present)
    • Essence  (HTML 1992 - Present, PDF 1992 - 2002)
    Business and Finance
    • Fast Company (HTML 2000 - Present)
    • Forbes (HTML 1990 - Present)
    • Inc. (PDF and HTML 1990 to Present)
    • Kiplinger's Personal Finance (PDF and HTML 1991 - Present)
    • Money (HTML 1990 - Present)
    Consumer Information
    • Consumer Reports (PDF and HTML 1991 - Present)
    • Consumer Reports Buying Guide (PDF and HTML 1999 - Present)
    Culture and Natural History
    • National Geographic (HTML, 1995 - Present, minus 3 month delay)
    • Natural History (PDF and HTML 1990 - Present)
    • Smithsonian (HTML 1990 - Present)
    • Entertainment Weekly (HTML 1993 - Present)
    • People (HTML 1994 - Present)
    Family Health
    • Consumer Reports on Health (PDF and HTML1992 - Present)
    • Prevention (HTML 1990 - Present)
    Home and Garden
    • Country Living  (HTML 1996 - Present)
    • House Beautiful (HTML 1999 - Present)
    • Horticulture (PDF and HTML 1995 - Present)
    • Louisiana Life (PDF and HTML 1996 - Present)
    • New Orleans CityBusiness (PDF and HTML 1994 - 2008)
    • New Orleans Homes and Lifestyles (PDF and HTML 1996 - Present)
    • New Orleans Magazine (PDF and HTML 1996 - Present
    Men's Lifestyle and Health
    • Esquire (HTML Full Text)
    • Men's Fitness (HTML 2002 - Present)
    • Men's Health (HTML 1990 - Present)
    • Billboard (HTML 1994 to Present)
    • Rolling Stone (PDF and HTML, 1990 to Present)
    • Mothering (PDF and HTML, 1990 - 2011)
    • Parenting (PDF and HTML, 1997 - 2009)
    • Commonweal (PDF and HTML, 1990 to Present)
    • Guideposts (HTML 2006 - Present)
    • U.S. Catholic (PDF and HTML  1992 - Present)
    Science and Technology
    • Discover (HTML 2001 - Present)
    • Popular Mechanics (HTML 1996 - Present)
    • Popular Science (PDF and HTML, 2002 - Present) 
    • Scientific American (HTML 2005 - Present)
    Sports and Outdoors
    • Boating World (PDF 2003 to Present)
    • Field & Stream (PDF and HTML, 2001 - Present)
    • Golf Digest (PDF and HTML, 1993 - Present) 
    • Motorboating (PDF 2001 - Present)
    • Outdoor Life (PDF and HTML 2001 - Present)
    • Professional Fisherman (PDF 2001 - Present)
    • Sports Illustrated (HTML 1992 - Present)
    • Salt Water Sportsman (PDF and HTML 2001 - Present)
    Women's Fashion and Lifestyle
    • Cosmopolitan (HTML 1996 - Present)
    • Harper's Bizarre (HTML 1999 - Present) 
    • InStyle (HTML 1996 - Present)
    • Redbook (HTML 1996 - Present)
    • Real Simple (HTML 2000 - Present)

      Thursday, July 14, 2011

      How to Check Out E-Books from Terrebonne Parish Library

      Do you have an e-book reader, or are you thinking about getting one? If so, you're not alone.  E-books have finally hit the big time. Earlier this year, e-book sales surpassed print book sales--both paperback and hardback--for the first time ever. This doesn't mean print books are going away, but it does mean people have more options for reading their favorite authors. Some people assume that e-books and libraries are incompatible, but the truth is, Terrebonne Parish Library has a large and growing collection of e-books.  If you have a computer, an internet connection, and a library card, you can check them out without ever leaving your house.

      So what exactly does it mean to "check out" an e-book?  Basically, it means you download an electronic version of the book to a computer, e-reader, or other mobile device.  You can choose whether to check the book out for one week or two.  At the end of this period, the book "returns" itself, by expiring and becoming unreadable.  Then you can simply delete it from your device.

      To see our selection of e-books, go to the library's website at, and click on e-library, as shown below.

      This link takes you to our e-library page, which is powered by a company called Overdrive.  The e-library page offers more than just e-books;  you can also download audiobooks, music, and videos.  We'll focus on e-books in this post.  To browse e-books, you can either click on the e-books pictured, or go to the links on the left side of the page, labeled "eBook Fiction" and "eBook Nonfiction".  Clicking on either one will open a menu with several categories:

      If you don't yet have an e-reader, and you're trying to decide which one to buy, this link has a list of compatible devices (the Amazon Kindle doesn't work with library e-books right now, but Amazon has announced that it will sometime later this year).  If you already have an e-book reader, the process of downloading books depends on which reader you have.  This is where it gets a little complicated.  Luckily, the library's e-book page has a new tool called MyHelp, which will get you started.  Just look near the top left side of the page for the icon shown below.  Clicking this link opens an interactive tutorial that will guide you through the steps of downloading your first library e-book.

      There are several steps required to set up your device the first time.  You will need to download software to your computer, or download an app to your Apple or Android mobile device.  This can be a little confusing at first, but the MyHelp tool will tell you exactly what you need to do.  During the setup process, you will be prompted to register your computer or portable device with Adobe.  This is required, because Adobe handles the rights-management technology that allows e-books to be checked out and returned.  

      If you are downloading to a computer, or to most e-readers, you will need to download a program called Adobe Digital Editions.  The MyHelp tool provides a link to the download, and some basic instructions.  If you need more help with Adobe Digital Editions, the Terrebonne Parish Library IT staff has developed a handy guide, available here.  The first part of the guide explains how to install Adobe Digital Editions, and the second part explains how to browse for e-books, add them to your cart, and download them. 

      If you have any questions, or run into any problems, just give the library reference staff a call at 876-1733.  We'll be glad to help get you started reading your first library e-book!  

      Friday, July 8, 2011

      Voices of Terrebonne's Past

      Memories of Terrebonne, 1890-1945 was an oral history program commissioned by the Terrebonne Parish Police Jury and recorded by Glen Pitre’s Côte Blanche Productions in the early 1980s. The object of the project was to capture life at the turn of the century as parish residents remembered it.

      Seventy people representing different lifestyles described their earlier lives in either English or their native French to interviewers, who recorded the sessions on 226 single-sided cassette tapes. A few of the interviewees were Merlin Bascle, Marie Dugas, Wilson Domingue, Warren Bourgeois, Effie Breau, Tommy Cobb, Ralph Bisland, Mable Champagne, Laïse Ledet, Father Roch Naquin, Eula Crochet, Neva Blanchard, Louise Boquet Arceneaux, and Doris Marie Cuneo.

      The latest issue of Terrebonne Life Lines, a quarterly publication of the Terrebonne Genealogy Society, contains an annotated transcription by Phil Chauvin of an 1983 interview of Henry J. Hebert. Mr. Hebert was born in October 1889 and lived “right in front of the Lafayette (Street) bridge”, which at that time was a drawbridge. He stated, “I have seen Houma when there was dirt road on the streets, no shell even. The street had big holes in it. They used to have horses, mules and wagons to haul the freight from the depot to the stores.”

      Mr. Hebert worked shucking oysters in the winter and doing carpentry in the summer. “You would shuck one thousand oysters for seventy-five cents. I would make two and a half to three dollars a day. That was plenty money in that time” (1912).

      Mr. Hebert’s memory was that the first bathroom in Houma was in a barber’s shop. People who worked on the rigs would come in and “stop at the barber shop, to take a bath, they would charge him a quarter for the water and the soap and towel.” He said that customers would “take a bath, get a shave and haircut; some every week or ten days.”

      The oral histories go beyond the purely factual information we learn in traditional genealogy research, giving us a more personal viewpoint. By reading or listening to the interviews, we are able to experience vicariously what peoples' lives were like in this parish in the early 1900s.

      Duplicates of the original tapes are housed in the genealogy collection of the Terrebonne Parish Main Branch Library. Terrebonne Genealogical Society members are in the process of making the audio recordings, which you can find at Did one of your ancestors record their experiences for this project? Check the website to find out!

      Monday, June 20, 2011

      Need Genealogy Pointers? Just Ask Us!

      The Terrebonne Parish Library has one of south Louisiana's most extensive collections of genealogy materials. We also have another resource to help you get started researching your genealogy: our knowledgeable staff! There's no substitute for experience, and we have people here with a lot of it. We are always ready to aid you in your search of the library’s extensive genealogical records as you assemble your family tree.

      You're most likely to find what you want for if you can explain precisely what it is you’re looking for. When you come to the library ready to research, bring with you as many details as you have managed to identify so far, such as when and where your ancestor lived, his or her full name (including any known nicknames), as well as the names of his or her family members.

      Unfortunately, our staff can't perform extended research into your family history for you, but we are always happy to advise you on the use of the materials in our collection and help you to brainstorm additional avenues of inquiry. If you are new to genealogy, and need help getting started, the best thing to do is call to set up an appointment for us to show you the basics. Our number is 876-1733, extension 2.

      The Genealogy Collection is open whenever the Main Library is open: Monday – Thursday, 9 a. m. – 9 p.m; Friday and Saturday, 9 a.m. – 6 p.m.; and Sunday, 2 – 4 p.m

      - Judith Soniat and Ross Mays

      Tuesday, June 14, 2011

      Flood Control vs. Coastal Erosion: Finding A Balance

      As most of the people in Terrebonne Parish know very well, managing the Mississippi River can be a big problem. Levees and other flood control structures have made catastrophic floods less common than they once were, but there is a downside to keeping the river on a tight leash: as disastrous as floods can be, they are what created southeast Louisiana.

      Before the levees and spillways were built, land here was created when the Mississippi and its tributaries and distributaries (offshoots) overflowed their banks every year, depositing layer after layer of sediment. While land was perpetually created in this way, it was also perpetually destroyed by subsidence and erosion. For thousands of years, these two opposing forces maintained a dynamic balance. The pattern of dry land and wet land shifted with the changing river channels, but the total amount of land stayed roughly the same.

      This balance was destroyed when people began to prevent the Mississippi River from flooding, by building levees and other flood control systems. Since we learned to prevent most floods, the river almost has stopped depositing sediment. Subsidence and erosion keep destroying land, as they have for millennia, but the Mississippi isn't allowed to build it back again.

      The amount of land lost in the last hundred years is truly mind-boggling. Since 1932, Louisiana has lost over 1,800 square miles of land--an area about the size Terrebonne Parish. Currently, our coast loses about a football field of land every 45 minutes. It's obvious that this is a huge problem, but it's not obvious what to do about it. We can't just knock down the levees and let the Mississippi go back to its old ways. Its method of creation is just too destructive. The challenge is to find ways to allow the river to create new land, but in a controlled way.

      Because this is such a complex issue, the Terrebonne Parish Library Reference Department will be present a series of blog posts about it, discussing the best places to find reliable information. For now, we would like to mention three excellent introductory resources:

      To get a sense of just how much the Louisiana wetlands have changed in the last few decades, take a look at the "before and after" image that appears in this article in the Huffington Post. Moving your mouse across this image will show how much the landscape has changed from 1973 to 2010.

      If you want a more detailed view of wetlands loss, the US Geological Survey has just published a new map showing where and when land has been lost since 1932. Red, orange, and yellow areas of the map show land lost before 1980, while blue and purple areas show land lost since then. A couple of small green areas show how the Atchafalaya River has begun to create new wetlands and deltas in Atchafalaya Bay.

      For an excellent overview of the geologic processes that created southeast Louisiana, and the processes that are now threatening to destroy it, check out this excellent animated tutorial from the New Orleans Times-Picayune.

      If you would like to find out more about this topic, please contact the Terrebonne Parish Library's Reference Department. We can show you a wide range of books, videos, articles, and websites to help you understand the issues. We'll also be focusing on some of these great resources in future blog posts, so stay tuned!