News You Can Use

November 22nd 2010
The holiday season is upon us once again, so from now through early January a lot of you are going to be guests or hosts at dinners, parties and dinner parties.  At the Central Library one of our book displays is of cookbooks with recipes suitable for both festive dining and wintry weather: classics such as Julia Child's Mastering the Art of French Cooking, and more recent titles such as Barbara Kafka's Roasting: A Simple Art, and  Martha Rose Shulman's Ready When You Are: A Compendium of... Read Post
October 28th 2010
...specifically, Google Books. Some people mistakenly think Google Books provides so much information they'll never need to step into a library again. The simple fact is that Google is an entity created by humans, which means there are constraints on the quantity and quality of what it offers. Many of the titles on Google Books offer only a limited preview or none at all (in other words, you can't read them). The digital versions of the titles you can read often have mistakes--lots of them.... Read Post
October 26th 2010
The candidates have done their usual thorough job of bombarding the electorate with ads, so you are doubtless aware that we're having an election next Tuesday. If you need to know where to vote or how to apply for an absentee ballot, or if you'd like a summary of the ballot questions or a preview of your ballot - check out the Massachusetts Division of Elections.

FYI: The East Branch will not be open on election day as it will be in use as a polling place. They'll be open and... Read Post
October 20th 2010
The Friends of the Library are holding their fall book sale this week at the Central Library. You can get incredibly good deals on new and used books, movies, and music and show your support for the Library! Proceeds from the book sale help support library programs for adults and children, including the popular "museum membership" program which allows Somerville residents to visit local museums free or at a discount. Thursday, October 21st, 5 - 8 pm (Book Sale Preview, for members of the... Read Post
October 6th 2010
Occasionally at SPL when a patron is using one of our computers to write something important (a cover letter, for example) misfortune strikes. The computer freezes and it has to be re-started. They (or someone else) kick a cable or power strip on the floor and the computer turns off. They weren't keeping track of their time and computer scheduling software logs them off before they're finished. The reason this qualifies as misfortune rather than mere inconvenience is that many of these people... Read Post
September 2nd 2010
If you've been spending much time online or reading the news in dead-tree format, you've probably encountered the term "net neutrality." Some of you might not know what that means. But as Internet users, you should. Basically, it means the networks and companies that provide us access to the Internet don't restrict our access to content or sites, or limit the types of equipment we use or the ways we communicate. You pay your service fee and then you read what you want, visit what sites you want... Read Post
August 20th 2010
You're probably a responsible Internet user: you've got a firewall on your home computer, you've set your browser not to accept cookies, and you don't go to dodgy sites. Well, according to Julia Angwin of The Wall Street Journal, that's not good enough. She recently analyzed tracking software used by the most commonly visited websites to discover what kind of information they collect on Internet users and how it's sold and used.  Angwin was recently interviewed on Fresh Air about this project.... Read Post
August 12th 2010
"Gogreen at your library," the Central Library's Summer Reading Club, wraps up tonight at 6:00 p.m. with a cooking demonstration by mother and son team Ellen and Walter Jacobs. Ellen and Walt will offer different suggestions for foods families can make together. Ingredients will include some veggies harvested from Ellen and Walt’s community garden plot and some purchased at the Davis Square Farmers’ Market. Recipes will be provided, and photos of the garden will be displayed. And after the... Read Post
July 21st 2010
One Hen: How One Small Loan Made a Big Difference (by Katie Smith Milway, illustrated by Eugenie Fernandes) tells the story of Kojo, a boy in Ghana, West Africa. Kojo's mother supports the family by gathering firewood to sell, but their life is hard. Luckily, the village they live in has a great idea - each family saves a small amount of money which they club together and loan to one another in turn. One family buy a load of fruit which they sell for a profit. They pay the borrowed portion... Read Post
July 15th 2010
Join us tonight at 7:00 p.m. at the Central Library for a remarkable performance by Alan Kitty as the legendary Mark Twain. 2010 marks the 100th anniversary of Mark Twain's death. But all around the US, people are already beginning to report sightings - some claiming to have had actual contact with the spirit of the great humorist himself. This is not a séance. And it is unlike any staged Mark Twain performance anywhere in the world. Alan Kitty is emerging as one of the premiere Mark Twain... Read Post
July 12th 2010
Somerville had quite the weekend. Saturday afternoon we had three inches of rain in less than an hour. Power  is still out in parts of town, and the police have had to relocate to the station in Teele Square at 1154 Broadway. Even if you can read this (meaning you're either in a place with power or a working smartphone), the flash food may have affected you. If  you have a home basement, workplace or a car to clean out, here are some flood cleanup manuals that might help: Flood cleanup... Read Post
July 8th 2010
Planning a summer vacation? The Library has books that can advise you on destinations near and far, familiar and exotic. The travel guide section breaks down like this: 914s: Europe 915s: Asia (including the Middle East) 916s: Africa 917s: North America (including the Caribbean)

917.3: the United States 917.4: New England 917.44: Boston 917.449: the Cape and Islands

918s: South America... Read Post

June 29th 2010
Can you believe it's already Summer Reading Club time again? This year's theme is Go Green, and the Library has lots of green fun planned at all three locations! A few highlights include: * stories, music, magic, comedy, and balloon animals with Jungle Jim at the West Branch on Wednesday, June 30th at 11:00 a.m. * a six-week garden club that will introduce you to the natural world right here in Somerville with Groundwork Somerville at the Central Library on Tuesdays at 11:00 a.m.,... Read Post
May 31st 2010
Today is the day we remember those who have given their lives in our country's service. But let's also think about those soldiers who are serving now.  The organization Soldier's Angels assembles and ships care packages to soldiers--everything from books and crossword puzzles to toothpaste and lip balm. At Adopt A Platoon you can find out how to get started writing to a soldier and provide much needed moral support, and the website for the United Services Organization provides information on... Read Post
May 30th 2010
Last time we discussed limiting your search to specific types of sites, file types and limiting your site to searches with images. All well and good, but those are only a few of the tricks you can use to get optimal results when you use Google. Here are some more: One way to refine your search results is to exclude words. To continue with one of our examples from last time, let's say you recall this really great PowerPoint presentation on time management, and you would like to review it and... Read Post