Thursday, January 28, 2010

Sad Day for Pennsylvania Libraries

It was announced this week that EBSCO host will no longer be available through POWER Library. Because of drastic cuts in the budget by PA Department of Education, this comprehensive database consisting of articles and multimedia sources will no longer be available as of February 1, 2010. At this point, it remains to be seen what databases will replace the offerings of EBSCO, but certainly it will not be nearly the extent of what POWER Library has offered in the past.
Thankfully, our students and staff have access to a number of databases to which our library subscribes. Please visit our Database website for links to each one, as well as a Google Custom Search for several online newspaper and periodical sites.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Tips for Google Reader

I just saw these tips for keyboard shortcuts in Google Reader and thought they were worth sharing:

Use j/k to navigate through a feed's items, t to tag an item, / (slash) to search, or press ? to get the list of all the keyboard shortcuts Reader supports.Press Escape to make the shortcut list disappear.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

BlogThis Toool

What is BlogThis! ? "BlogThis! is an easy way to make a blog post without visiting Once you add the BlogThis! link to your browser's toolbar, blogging will be a snap. Or rather, a click. Clicking BlogThis! creates a mini-interface to Blogger prepopulated with a link to the web page you are visiting, as well as any text you have highlighted on that page. Add additional text if you wish and then publish or post from within BlogThis!"

And yes - I used BlogThis to create this post!

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Discovering eBooks for my iPod Touch

This weekend I discovered that there are many FREE ebooks available for my iTouch through iPhone apps. Previously, I had not really been very interested in exploring ebooks for my small iTouch screen since I imagined that the print would be too difficult for me to read, much like the text when browsing through websites. However, not only was I surprised by how clear the print is, but I was pleased to see that the Kindle app offers quite a few titles for free. As might be expected, many free titles are classics such as Pride and Prejudice and Dracula, but I was pleased to find quite a few new releases such as Suite Scarlett by Maureen Johnson (which was my first pick!). I also learned from a Tweet from @DoremiGirl that Stanza and Classics are two other great apps for ebooks and also offer many free titles.

The text preferences within these ebook apps can be adjusted to make your reading more clear and legible. Not only can you choose different font sizes, but you can choose between a day-time or night-time screen (as pictured) and there are various features for bookmarking, adding notes, or searching within a book.

While I'm not anywhere ready to purchase an ebook reader for myself for a couple of hundred dollars, I certainly am pleased to find I now have a couple of ebook options for my iTouch, and that many of the titles are free, or at a very low cost!

Book Review: Liar

Though Micah is a self-proclaimed liar, she begins the book with a promise: "I will tell you my story and I will tell it straight. No lies, no omissions. That's my promise. This time I truly mean it." Or does she? Throughout the novel, readers are taken on such a roller-coaster of self-admitted lies that nothing can be believed or taken for granted. Was she born a girl, a boy...or something completely different? What kind of relationship did she really have with Zach, a fellow high school student who was murdered? What does she know about the murder...was she involved? The ambiguous ending will leave readers intrigued with an urge to discuss the novel with others.

Larbalestier, Justine. Liar. New York: Bloomsbury, 2009. 978-1-59990-305-7. 376p.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Book Review: Sorta Like a Rock Star

I just finished reading Sorta Like a Rock Star by Matthew Quick which is due to be released in May 2010. It's one of those very special reads which I didn't want to put down, and which I will be recommending to many. It most certainly will be one of my top ten for the PSLA Top Forty Book Review Committee!

Amber Appleton is one of The Five - a group of misfit, "freak" students who have been friends since they were put together for counseling in the fifth grade. After school, you can find Amber drinking green tea with a Vietnam vet who is fond of writing haiku's, tutoring Korean women in English by leading them in Motown songs, or visiting a retirement home where she and Joan of Old entertain residents with their optimism vs pessimism battles. At night, Amber sleeps (often alone) on the Hello Yellow bus which her mom drives for a living. Her mom is often "out fishing" at bars, looking for her next Prince Charming. Readers will smile with delight at the positive, vivacious attitude of Amber as she spreads hope among her various, eccentric friends. However, when she struggles to come to terms with a tragic, life-changing event, we find that Amber is not as capable of receiving help as she is at giving it. This is a truly delightful book which will have readers both laughing and crying throughout. Highly recommended!

We were privileged to have Matthew Quick visit our school last Spring to discuss his first novel, The Silver Linings Playbook. The students not only loved this book but were fascinating by his personal story of becoming a writer. Let's hope he has many more novels to come!