Librarian for the People

Libraries Affected by Sandy

A number of public libraries have been affected by Hurricane Sandy and many library users are wondering when they will be open, what to do about late fees or how to renew their items. The online services (ebooks, catalog, databases, live homework help, live librarian chat services, etc.) are functional.  Many of the libraries that are now open have free WiFi, public computers, story times, teen activities, video games, movies and other activities along with their regular services.

Below are announcements and links to hours and other information about these libraries:

Queens Public Library

Brooklyn Public Library

New York Public Library

Town of Pelham Public Library

Princeton NJ Public Library

For libraries in the New Jersey counties of Bergen, Essex, Hudson, and Passaic Counties.    Here’s a spreadsheet being constantly updated for the hours of New Jersey Libraries.


Voting and Elections

November 6th is almost here.  Are you ready to vote?  Are you still undecided after 4 debates?  A good objective source to find out each candidates views on all the issues is the site.  This website is also good for all you students and others doing debates of your own.

What else do you need to prepare to vote?  Not sure where you polling place is?  Go to the League of Women Voter’s site  To request an absentee ballot go to to find out how.

For more good information go to the Voting and Election site from

Have other questions?  You can always ask a librarian.

Celebrate Open Access Week

Looking for peer-reviewed/scholarly research articles on a topic?  Recently graduated from college or no longer affiliated with an academic institution?  You can get access to a growing number of research articles through the Directory of Open Access Journals.

It wasn’t that long ago when the vast majority of research papers were published in journals that could only be read by academics if they — or their university libraries — paid a subscription. Thanks to the growth of the world wide web and the growth of open access publishing more research papers are made freely available online.

The cost of databases, print and electronic journal subscriptions has sky-rocketed impacting both libraries and individuals.  In a 2011 report entitled “The Survey of Library Databases Licensing Practices” (which you can read for 89.50 here), academic libraries surveyed spent a mean of $1.259 million for content licensed in electronic or joint electronic print format in 2010.

Other sites where you can access scholarly articles and reports include the Information Resources page of the Open Access Scholarly Publishers Association.


Is there an ereader in your future

Many libraries now are offering ebooks for a variety of ereaders – Nook‘s, Kindle’s, Android devices, iPads, iPods and more.

The most popular ebook service available through libraries is provided by a vendor called Overdrive.  Many libraries have branded their Overdrive ebook collection with names – Maryland Digital eLibrary, Southern Illinois Libraries on the GO, Delaware’s Digital Library or The Free Library of Philadelphia‘s Your Overdrive Digital Library.  Regardless of the name, libraries are providing both fiction and non-fiction ebooks for adults and children.  Check out your library website and look for a link or icon to connect you to free ebooks that you can borrow to read.

Let Your Voice Be Heard

The deadline for registering to vote in many states has passed but there’s still time to register in some states.  Check for deadlines.

Want to make sure that you’re already registered and haven’t been purged?  Go to the League of Women’s Voters

Find a Book In A Library Anywhere!

OCLC has made their WorldCat catalog free and available on the web.   Worldcat is a catalog of the materials of libraries throughout the country and in some cases throughout the world.

Want to know if a library near you has a book? At WorldCat just enter the title, subject or person.  You can do a much more detailed search by going to the Advanced Search.

Does your library not have the book you want?  Ask them about their  Interlibrary Loan where they can borrow a book from a library for your use.

It’s 3 a.m. I wonder if there’s a librarian available?

Have you ever been up late at night trying to remember the name of the author of the book that was made into a movie starring John Cusack as a record store owner? What other books did he write? Is your mother concerned about a new medication that her doctor has prescribed and would like to read more about it? Is your term paper due tomorrow and you’re just getting started? Are you going nuts trying to think of the name of the song you heard as you were leaving Starbucks this morning with your skinny grande latte? Have you been trying to locate a library that has an extensive sheet music collection so that you can see if they have Sonata by Claude Debussy for violin and piano?

Just log onto your computer.  Find your library’s website and look for an icon to chat with a librarian.  Then start tapping those keys.

So what do you do? You may just be able to Ask A ibrarian. Most libraries today offer the option to email them a question to which they’ll respond when they open the next day.

However, many more libraries both public and academic (colleges and universities) offer a “live” chat service that is staffed by librarians 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, no exceptions for holidays – so whenever you need help finding information – they are online. This type of “virtual reference” isn’t just a “chat” service like aol or yahoo chat. You can chat with a librarian but they can also “push” pages. In other words, in response to your question they can send you webpages that will appear on one side of your screen.

For users who don’t have a library card or aren’t a student at a college or university, librarians will try to find information “free” on the web to answer questions. Why, you think, can’t I do that myself? Sure you can – but librarians are trained in finding information fast; evaluating that information to see if it’s from a reliable source; and some can just type and search really fast.

If you are a college student or a public library user who wants to learn more about how to search different databases for magazine, journal or newspaper fulltext articles online, your online librarian can “co-browse” with you. In other words, you can both be on the same screen. In the chat box, the librarian can talk you through what you’re seeing on the webpage and tell you what to click on to find what you’re looking for – whether it be a peer-reviewed article on “ethics in business” or a recent newspaper article on raising the minimum wage.

Your library, whether it’s your local public library or a college library pays for many electronic resources ranging from article and newspaper databases to electronic books to genealogy databases to downloadable audiobooks. To use these resources, you will need a library card. If you don’t know how to get a library card or find your local public library, there’s an . You can click on your state and it will bring up a list of all the libraries in the state. If you library has a website, you’ll find a link to take you there. Most libraries offering an “Ask a Librarian” service display this on the front of their website. Remember to use one of these public library services, you need to be a resident of the area the library serves; and to access many of the databases for articles, newspapers, downloadable books and other sources you’ll need a library card.

College and University students – you should know which is your library and whether they offer this 24/7 service. Just go to your library website and look for or other icons or links similar to these below:

So ask away! Your librarian may be home asleep but there’s a crew of librarians from around the country who cover the service when your local librarian isn’t available.

See you online some night.

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