KC Unbound

Learning Express people walking image

Among my more satisfying moments working at the Reference Desk are the times when I can inform a customer, disappointed that the print book they want is not available, that the information they need can be found in one of the Kansas City Public Library’s online databases. Eyes light up, and frustration is eased – yea, Librarian Hero! 

People are even more pleased when they discover they can access many of these databases from home, with an Internet connection, a Library card, and PIN.

Dear Fellow Library Enthusiast,
It’s that time again. Fall is upon us, which means your Library is about to embark on another season of presenting, if I may be so bold, an extensive schedule of simply extraordinary public programs.

All of our programs are admission free, thanks to a generous grant from the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation, plus additional support from like-minded donors and our increasing ability to obtain competitively-awarded grants.

If you’re one of our growing band of regulars, we look forward to seeing you, well, regularly. If you’re not, well, what are you waiting for? Your Library has become one of Kansas City’s leading venues for engaging presentations by leading authors as well as a forum for civic engagement and public dialogue. It’s the place to be, this fall more than ever.

Whether you’ve got a Xoom tablet, Droid phone, or one of those myriad gadgets that begin with a lowercase “i,” downloading Library e-books onto your device is easy. All you need is the OverDrive Media Console app and, of course, a free Kansas City Public Library Card and PIN.

Have you checked out an e-book from our OverDrive collection? E-books are becoming more and more popular, but some Library customers have found the process of downloading an e-book and getting it onto an e-reader rather tricky. Here’s a handy video tutorial to help you along.

So you’ve developed your arts and crafts skills for some time now, and you’ve gotten pretty good. In fact you’ve gotten really good. People see your work and say things like, “Wow, you should sell those,” or “You could make money doing that!” Maybe you dream of quitting your day job to devote more time to doing what you love best.

It you haven’t made the leap yet, I advise to you to stop and truly think about it, and research it, because you will find that all that extra time (and then some) you thought you’d have to simply create is now devoted to producing, marketing, and selling. There is an also an art and craft to good business, so lucky for you, the Kansas City Public Library has plenty of resources to help you learn those skills to start and grow a craft-based business.

Side note – although this blog entry is mainly directed at crafters, I hope that artists, writers, musicians, actors, and performers of all stripes may find some of this information useful. Please refer to the bibliography appended to this entry for some titles specific to your profession.  

Whether you hang your hat in gingerbread Victorian or a warehouse loft, the Library has the tools to help you uncover the history of your home. The Missouri Valley Special Collections contain a wealth of historical records in print, on microfilm, and online.

Though you can use the online resources without leaving the house you’re researching (assuming it has an Internet connection), some items on this list can only be accessed by visiting the Missouri Valley Room during regular hours.

Librarians are also available to answer questions – call 816.701.3427 or email lhistory@kclibrary.org.

Don’t miss: For antebellum architecture buffs, an ongoing speakers' series on Kansas City’s pre-Civil War homes continues this Sunday, July 10, 2011, at 2 p.m., at the Plaza Branch, where Tom Cooke examines the history of the Bent-Ward House (more info).

10 Resources for Researching Your Home’s History

 

1. City Directories

If you’re traveling abroad this summer, chances are pretty good that wherever you’re going, the people there speak English. But that doesn’t mean you can’t have some fun – and improve your chances of making new friends – by learning some essential phrases in the language of the country you’re visiting.

Revision book

The Kansas City Public Library has ample resources for the art and craft of writing. Whether you want to craft your first romance novel, construe a personal memoir, or piece together a modern political treatise, you will find plenty of books about writing books in the library, scattered throughout the 800 call number area, in all of our branches.

Use our catalog to find titles such as How to Write Mysteries, by Shannon O’Cork, and Writing Fantasy & Science Fiction, and Getting Published, by Brian Stableford. Doing a keyword search on your genre of choice, i.e., “screenplay writing,” will yield plenty of titles in such categories as romance, science, plays, short stories, poetry, essays, novels and more.

The day after a devastating tornado hit Joplin, Missouri, destroying a quarter of the city and resulting in 123 deaths, the Joplin Public Library was open for business.

Located about 12 blocks north of the six-mile-long path the F4 tornado cut through the town Sunday night, the Public Library has become a place of stability for a community in upheaval.

Library Director Jacque Gage reports that as citizens have begun to regroup and restart their lives, they’ve been using the Library’s computers, solid Internet connection, and charging stations. “We’re near police, fire, and the main grid,” Gage tells us. “Our fiber network hasn’t gone down once.”

Though the Library was undamaged, eight staff members completely lost their homes in the storm, and two others’ homes received significant damage. Two employees suffered injuries, including a broken arm.

“Five of the eight who lost their homes are only employed part-time, including a single mom (with a now-broken arm and no medical insurance),” Gage said in an e-mail sent earlier today to Missouri library directors.

¿Puede usted ayudarme? A Hispanic customer surprised me with this question one day. My eyes popped out of my head. True, I recently took Spanish That Works, an eight-week course designed to help librarians learn basic Spanish. But could I put to use what I studied in class to assist this lady right away?

Nervously, I introduced myself to her in Spanish. Then, the No hablo mucho español I barely remembered from Mr. Orozco came in handy.

After that eye-opening day, I made up my mind that I need más Spanish to better communicate with Hispanic patrons. Fortunately, the Kansas City Public Library provides a wide variety of Spanish-learning resources in book, CD, DVD, and electronic formats. On this Cinco de Mayo, why not take your first steps toward learning Spanish – or if you’ve already studied it, brushing up?

My criteria for choosing language-learning materials are: conversational focus, practicality, and audio quality. These beginning-level books offer vocabulary, phrases, and sentences that will get you started conversing in Spanish in no time.

Textile and needlecrafts are among the oldest crafts in human history. Along with the ability to craft rudimentary tools came the use of those tools to fashion draped skins and other natural fibers for protection from the elements. Humans are the only animal on Earth to wear clothing.

It might be argued that to both clothe oneself and one’s loved ones, as well as creatively and culturally express oneself through fashion choices, is a time-honored endeavor that reaches into the very roots of what it means to be human.

I suspect that it is no accident that as mass-produced clothing now overflows on department store racks across much of the industrialized world, a renaissance has taken place with a renewed enthusiasm for handcrafting in the textile and needlecraft arts. In addition, shows like Project Runway have spurred interest in the creative art of fashion design.

The Kansas City Public Library has a huge selection of books and videos to help you get started or expand your abilities in textiles and needlecrafts. So great is this selection, scattered throughout our Consortium system, (a Catalog search yielded more than one thousand titles on “quilting” alone), that I can only touch on some of the many materials available. But let’s survey some of the categories, along with some of the items available.

Everyone loves old family photos. Whether laughing at Uncle Mark’s 1976 baby-blue prom tuxedo or imagining the life of your great-great grandfather as you gaze at an image of him in a Civil War uniform, we connect with times past and pass along our traditions and memories to future generations through photographs.

With the advent of digital photography and the accessibility of affordable camera equipment, many of us have begun stockpiling photos on our computers. As with physical photos, these digital images are subject to loss and decay over time.

In order to make sure our descendants continue to have opportunities to learn about our lives, action needs to be taken today to preserve and protect the memories we capture using digital media.

When I first started using Twitter I followed @kcweather, a few people I knew, and a few librarians. As I got more daring, I branched out and started following authors. The first few I followed were people like @neilhimself (Neil Gaiman), @longshotauthor (Jim Butcher), and Warren Ellis @warrenellis and while they were entertaining they had too many followers to be able to interact with their fans in any meaningful way.

The school year’s winding down, and pressure to nail those grades is going up. As always, the Kansas City Public Library’s here to help. Whether you’re sweating that English paper or gearing up for a long night of calculus crunching, Brainfuse can hook you up with free online homework help from expert tutors any day of the week. All you need is a Library card.

Brainfuse is a suite of online tutoring services designed to help you master an academic skill, prepare for a test, or just get through a difficult homework problem by connecting you with certified online tutors offering a wide array of interactive, state-aligned activities for grades K-12. Tutoring help is also available in Spanish.

Brainfuse provides one-on-one homework help every day from 2 p.m. to 11 p.m. Access is available online on the Library homework help page. You must log in to Brainfuse using a Kansas City Public Library card and your PIN. (Forgot your PIN?) You can use Brainfuse from home, but you must first access it through the Library’s website.

Chat with a Tutor

Brainfuse has a lot of features. But if you want to start working with a live tutor right away, begin with Homework Help or Live Skills Building.

Photographs are treasured items you want to hold on to for as long as possible. Careless handling, improper storage, and exposure to the elements can all ruin precious memories. Whether a 150-year-old Daguerrotype or a Kodak snapshot from a few years ago, all photos require care. Here are some tips to help make sure you don't lose these valuable artifacts.

The Kansas City Public Library is recognizing Preservation Week (April 24-30, 2011) with two special sessions on caring for your photos, both print and digital (because digital images can be lost, too).

This Saturday, April 16, at 11 a.m., Missouri Valley Special Collections Librarian Lucinda Adams leads a presentation on Caring for Print Photographs. The following Saturday, Digital Projects Manager Jordan Fields will lead a presentation on Preserving Digital Images. Both presentations are free; RSVP online to attend.

Pages