Monday, January 31, 2011

New Non-Fiction

Looking for something to read while the snow and sleet pile up outside?  Try one of these new titles.

At home with Madhur Jaffrey : simple, delectable dishes from India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, & Sri Lanka / Madhur Jaffrey 

This may not be the usual way to describe a title, but this book looks delicious!  I spent some time flipping through the photographs and recipes and found this to be an extremely accessible cook book.  For all of you out there who have tried to cook an Indian, Pakistani, Bangladeshi or Sri Lankan dish and failed, this is the book for you.  Here is a video of the author talking about the book--my mouth was watering as I watched it.

This is a title for those who would like to grow fresh vegetables & herbs but have limited garden space.  Most microgreens (think peas, radish, kale, basil, broccoli, flax, parsley, and more) are ready in a week, and you can grow them in the winter. 'Microgreens' contains growing instructions, information on individual varieties, tips for getting your children involved in your micro-garden, and recipes so you can enjoy your micro-harvest.  Read more about microgreens here.

Ratification: the people debate the Constitution, 1787-1788

This work tells the dramatic and engaging story of how the Constitution got ratified.  Federalists and Anti-Federalists worked at cross purposes.  The nation's Founders and ordinary citizens of the Republic fought passionately to construct the government they desired--and it wasn't always pretty.  Using newly uncovered archival material, Pauline Maier describes the debates and details how mobs in Philadelphia, Albany and New York City trashed buildings and roughed up their foes.  For a detailed and exciting account of the ratification of the Constitution, you can't beat this book.

New Reference

Kelley blue book used car guide : consumer edition, 1995-2009 models

Whether you're buying or selling, get the right price for your used car with this resource.  While the most recent version of the blue book can not leave the library, we have a photocopier available for your use that costs 10 cents per page (or free paper and a pencil to jot down your notes).

Nolo's encyclopedia of everyday law : answers to your most frequently asked legal questions / by Shae Irving & Nolo editors. 

Do you have a legal question?  This title was written by a team of attorneys and answers legal questions in plain English.  Topics covered include: credit & debt, workplace rights, wills & estate planning, buying a house, divorce, small claims court, domestic violence, adoption, social security, intellectual property, probate, child custody & visitation, retirement accounts, bankruptcy, child support, legal malpractice, living together, mediation, landlords & tenants, and criminal law.  While the 2010 version can not leave the library, the 2008 version can be checked-out. 

Saturday, January 29, 2011

A Search Primer (you don't have to always go with Google)

While Google is the undisputed king of internet search, there are other options.  Try some from the list below the next time you do a search.  The bottom portion of this post contains links to search tips that will help you become a better searcher.

General Search Engines
All the Web, All the Time
One of the more recently developed Web indexing tools, this search engine indexes a very large database. It has separate search boxes for audio, FTP, and picture files. Advanced search options support domain filters, word filters, and allow searching in 25 different languages.

Alta Vista has a large database. It can perform searches in Spanish or English and translate words, phrases, and entire Web sites online into many languages using "Babelfish." Other improvements include phrase detection, spell check, Family Filter, and natural language capabilities.

Ask is a search engine that is intended to be used with natural language questions. There are many extra features such as suggesting other terms that are along the same subject lines and local searching.

Bing is Microsoft's new search engine. On the left side of the screen, it has buttons for searching images, videos, shopping, news, travel, history and maps. There is a visual search option, as well.

The most extensive search engine on the Web. Google search results are ranked based on site popularity rather than the common practice of paid positioning. Google also has specialized searches for certain operating systems, government documents, maps and scholarly articles. A single click translation service is available for most pages which will translate to the user's primary language. It also caches Web pages allowing an individual to view pages that are not currently available or that are on overburdened servers.

Hakia is a semantic search engine that is focused on quality. Unique to Hakia, a single query brings a full set of results in all segments including Web, News, Blogs, Hakia Galleries, Credible Sources, Video, and Images. Among these segments, News, Blogs, Credible Sources, and Hakia Galleries are processed by Hakia's proprietary core semantic technology called QDEXing. Web, video, and images are processed by Hakia's SemanticRank technology using third party API feeds.

HotBot allows many search options such as language, images, javascript, video, and MP3. Advanced search options allow searching by date, page depth, and domain name.

Mahalo is the one 'human-powered' search site in this list, employing a committee of editors to manually sift and vet thousands of pieces of content.  This means that you'll get fewer Mahalo hit results than you will get at Bing or Google. But it also means that most Mahalo results have a higher quality of content and relevance (as best as human editors can judge).
Mahalo also offers regular web searching in addition to asking questions.  Depending on which of the two search boxes you use at Mahalo, you will either get direct content topic hits or suggested answers to your question.

The first index is based exclusively on Twitter statuses. When you search for something on Topsy, such as “free music,“ it finds snippets of conversations that match what you are looking for. Topsy results are the things people link to when they are talking about your search terms. Topsy ranks results based on how well they match your search terms and the influence of the people talking about them.

Twazzup is a Twitter search tool that provides almost all of what Twitter Search does itself, plus a list of the most influential tweeters on a topic, related photos, and keywords based on your search results to help you refine your search.

WebCrawler is one of the oldest search engines and uses the Excite search software to search the Web. It is good for simple searching.

Yahoo is a collection of classified subject resources. If no matches are found in its own database, it searches the rest of the Web using Google. Options at the bottom of the screen link to searches in a particular country (Denmark, France, Mexico) or city (Los Angeles, New York City) which may be in the native language of that country.

Yippy is a Deep Web engine that searches other search engines for you. Unlike the regular Web, which is indexed by robot spider programs, Deep Web pages are usually harder to locate by conventional search. That's where Yippy becomes very useful. If you are searching for obscure hobby interest blogs, obscure government information, tough-to-find obscure news, academic research and otherwise-obscure content, then Yippy is your tool.

Meta Search Engines

These search engines search multiple databases simultaneously. Both of these search engines remove the duplicates before presenting the search results.
Searches the major search engines simultaneously and allows the user to view the combined results or compare the results of the various engines side by side.

MetaCrawler simultaneously searches Lycos, Infoseek, WebCrawler, Excite, AltaVista, Thunderstone, DirectHit, LookSmart, and Yahoo. A brief annotation is provided with the search results.

Subject Guides

These subject guides are a starting point to specific information on the Web. Although they do provide search engines, those engines search only on the individual Web site (i.e., a search on the Librarians' Index to the Internet will only show sites listed on the Librarians' Index to the Internet).
Internet Public Library
Originally begun as a project of the University of Michigan School of Information and Library Studies, the Internet Public Library locates, evaluates, annotates and organizes the information resources of the Internet which would be of interest to patrons of a public library.

Scout Report Archives
The Internet Scout Project, located in the Computer Sciences Department of the University of Wisconsin-Madison, is funded by the National Science Foundation. Resources can be searched by either a quick or complex search engine. Links can also be browsed by Library of Congress subject headings.

Web Searching Techniques

For more information on how search engines work, how to search, and tables and charts describing how these tools work, see the following articles:
Beyond General World Wide Web Searching (From UC Berkeley)
Checklist of Internet Research Tips (from the University at Albany)
Searching the Internet
Recommended Search Strategy: Search With Peripheral Vision

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

New Titles in Non Fiction and Reference

Today I'm introducing a new feature called the Reference Review.  As we add new titles to the non-fiction and reference sections of the library, I'll pick a few to highlight and share with you.  For the first installment of the Review the titles are:

The world in 2050 : four forces shaping civilization's northern future by Laurence C. Smith

"The world in 2050" is an impressive work that explains in detail how global climate change will impact the earth.  Smith argues that the northern latitudes, which include Alaska, Canada, Greenland, Russia and Scandinavia, will prosper while areas such as the American Southwest and China will experience severe drought.  For those overwhelmed by the often depressing message conveyed by works focused on climate change, fear not.  Smith is an optimist who presents several hopeful alternatives to the dire future predicted elsewhere.

The price of everything : solving the mystery of why we pay what we do by  Eduardo Porter

In the wake of the recent financial crisis, belief in a rational market has taken a hit.  Contrary to decades of conventional economic theory, Eduardo Porter explains in "The price of everything" why people often do not act according to rational assessments or even in their own best interest. A couple of intriguing examples from the book to peak your interest: People are more likely to give blood for free than if offered $25 dollars for the donation and more likely to drive 20 miles to save $20 on a $100 sweater than drive the same distance to save the same amount of money on a $1000 computer.  Why?  Read the book and find out.

Stitch 'n bitch : super star knitting : go beyond the basics by Debbie Stoller

Have you already run through the other knitting titles available in the library?  Ready to challenge yourself and try something new?  Debbie Stroller's "Super Star Knitting" will show you how to do the project of your dreams with illustrated step-by-step guides and patterns.  This well-reviewed handbook should please all knitters looking for something more advanced than a basic 'how to knit' guide would offer.  

Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother / Amy Chua 

Amy Chua's memoir explores a parenting style that has been labeled (depending on your point of view) obsessive, caring, over-driven, and tough.  "Battle Hymn" tells the story of Chua's struggle to raise her two daughters in what she terms the "Chinese Way".  What does this method of parenting entail?  No T.V. or play-dates with other children, multi-hour practice sessions on the piano enforced with a threat to burn her children's stuffed animals if their music didn't show improvement, and an insistence on academic perfection.  This widely reviewed book is sure to provoke interesting dinner table conversation with your own family and will arrive at the library shortly.  Place your holds now! 

2009 International building code
2009 International residential code for one- and two-family dwellings
International Fuel Gas Code 2009 

Want to make sure you understand the latest building codes before you put on the new addition to your house?  Are you a builder or a contractor?  If so, these comprehensive reference books will tell you what the minimum regulations are for the work that you want to do.

More new titles available:

Andrew Johnson / Annette Gordon-Reed
The Good Housekeeping Cookbook / editors of Good Housekeeping Magazine
Physicians Desk Reference for Nonprescription Drugs, Dietary Supplements, and Herbs / PDR Network
The Haves and the Have-Nots: a brief and idiosyncratic history of global inequality / Branko Milanovic
Decoded / Jay-Z
Why We Get Fat..and what to do about it / Gary Taubes
Kids love Pennsylvania : your family travel guide to exploring "kid-friendly" Pennsylvania; / George & Michele Zavatsky
Fodor's 535 Best Beaches / Fodor Publications
Birnbaum's 2011 Official Guide to Walt Disney World / Wendy Lefkon
Birnbaum's 2011 Walt Disney World for Kids / Wendy Lefkon

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Survey Results Are In

The results of PCL's patron survey of favorite books of 2010 are in.  Non-fiction favorites you might want to check out include:

Patron's First Choice Winners:
1. None of Us Were Like This Before by Joshua Phillips
2. The Big Short by Michael Lewis
3. The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larsson (not non-fiction but it made it on the list!)
4. The Bookseller of Kabul by Asne Seierstad
8. **** My Dad Says by Justin Halpern
9. Methland by Nick Reding
10. True Compass by Edward Kennedy

Patron's Second Choice Winners:
1. Negro President by Garry Wills
2. Kabul Beauty School by Deborah Rodriguez
3. The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot
4. How Did You Get This Number by Sloane Crosley
5. Game Change by John Heilemann and Mark Halperin

Patron's Third Choice Winners:
1. How Pleasure Works by Paul Bloom
2. Boardwalk Empire by Nelson Johnson
3. Keep the Change by Steve Dublanica
4. High Society: the Life of Grace Kelly by Donald Spoto

USB Flash Drives

USB Flash Drives are now available for purchase.  The drives are being sold at cost for $7.00 and are available at the circulation or reference desks.  If you are unable or unwilling to purchase a drive but would like to save your documents, ask a reference librarian how to set up and use Google Docs