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!

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Chilton Library: Your Source for Auto Repair Information

If you like to work on cars and trucks, you're probably familiar with the Chilton auto repair manuals. Now your library card gives you online access to the information from those manuals, through a database called Chilton Library. To get to Chilton Library, go to the library's website at mytpl.org and click "Research" in the navigation bar. Now go to "Databases by Name" and find Chilton Library under "C". Or just use this short link: bit.ly/chilton1. When prompted, enter your library card number.

As you can see, the Chilton Library homepage lets you choose the year, make, and model of the vehicle you want to work on. Let's say you have a 2006 Chevy Colorado. Enter this information in the Vehicle Selector, as shown below, and hit "Select."

You can view information on repair, maintenance, and bulletins/recalls. If you click on "Repair", you'll see a page like this:

Let's say you want to replace the water pump. On the left side of the page, click: Engine Cooling > Repair Instructions > Water Pump Replacement, as shown below. Now you will see the illustrated instructions for replacing the water pump, along with links to related tasks, such as removing the fan and drive belt. To print the instructions, go to Print Content, on left side of the page.

Chilton Library really does give you a whole library of auto repair information, and all you need is a library card and internet connection. If you have any questions, call the Reference Department at 876-5861, ex. 2. Happy auto repairs!

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Your Online Reference Shelf: Gale Virtual Reference Library

Did you know you have an entire collection of reference books you can read wherever you have an internet connection and library card? For the last several years, the library has offered hundreds of electronic reference books through databases like Literati by Credo, Infobase, and Gale Virtual Reference Library. These are just like the books you'll find on the reference shelves at the library--same words, same pictures, same respected authors and publishers--they're just in electronic format. You can read them on your computer, your tablet, or your smartphone. Now we've dramatically expanded our e-book collection in Gale Virtual Reference Library to include over 3,500 e-books.

To get started, go to the library's homepage at mytpl.org, click "Research" on the navigation bar, and then "Databases by Name." Now click on Gale Virtual Reference Library (or you can get there directly by entering bit.ly/mytplgvrl in your address bar.)

As you can see, the e-books are arranged by subject headings on the left side of the page. You can browse the subjects to see which books look interesting, but one great advantage of e-books over print is that you can search hundreds of them in just a few seconds. Just go to the search box at the top of the page and start typing. 

Since the Fourth of July is coming up, let's type in "Declaration of Independence." This gives us results from a wide range of reference books. If we click on the first article, in the Gale Encyclopedia of American Law, we see a page like this:

Notice at the top right that you can choose between a text version and a PDF version. If you want to see the article exactly as it appears in the print version of the book, click the PDF button. There are also buttons above the article that let you print, email or download it, or even listen to an audio version. If you're using the article for a school paper, you can click "Citation Tools" to automatically generate citations for the end of the paper. This highlights a huge advantage over websites like Wikipedia--most teachers won't let you cite Wikipedia or other websites you find in a Google search. The reference articles in GVRL are citeable. They come from books by respected publishers, and they're written by recognized experts; not anonymous volunteers.

With Gale Virtual Reference Library and our other e-book databases, you have an entire reference shelf as close as your computer or mobile device, and it's available any time of day or night. If you use a tablet or smartphone, you may want to go to your app store and download the Access My Library app. It gives you quick access to all library's Gale databases, including all the reference books in Gale Virtual Reference Library. It's a reference shelf in your pocket.

As always, if you have any questions, call the Reference Department at 876-5861, ex. 2. Enjoy your newly expanded reference collection!

Thursday, May 29, 2014

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!

Thursday, May 1, 2014

Small Business Success Series at the Library

Are you a small business owner, or thinking about starting a business? If so, you know that marketing is essential. It's also gotten very complex in today's world, expanding into social media like Facebook and Twitter, smart phones and mobile devices, and more. To help you navigate this new world of marketing and branding, Terrebonne Parish Library is hosting a series of seminars on small business marketing and branding. They will be led by Charles Gaiennie of the W.L. Gaiennie Company in Houma, in partnership with SCORE, a national non-profit organization devoted to helping small businesses grow. The dates and seminar titles are listed below. We hope to see you there!

Small Business Success Series

Tuesdays, 6-7:30
Terrebonne Parish Main Library
Distance Education Room (Upstairs)

May 6        Email Marketing--Simple Strategies for Success

May 20      Social Media Marketing Made Simple

June 3        Grow Your Business with Email and Social Media

June 17      Grow Your Business With Social Campaigns

July 1         Simple Strategies for Better Event Marketing

July 15       Making Local Deals Work for Your Small Business

July 29       Making the Case for Mobile

To register, go to mytpl.org/success
For more information, call Ross at 876-5861

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!