Archive for the “The Reference Desk” Category

Quick Response codes – QR codes for short – are cropping up all over the place. A QR code is a special type of barcode that can be read with an image scanner, such as the camera on your mobile device, with a QR reader application. The device scans the code and takes you to more information, perhaps a website or other content.
You’ll find QR codes all over the Meadville Public Library. We’ve added them in the stacks and on bookmarks in the Children’s Department to help you find ebooks through Project Gutenberg. They also appear in the Reference Section to link you quickly to some of our resources in the Gale Virtual Reference Library. Try it!

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The Young Adult Writer’s Forum ( was set up as a place for teens to share their writing with other teens. You have to register to be able to enter all the sub-forums, but once you do you can participate in weekly writing prompts, read other teens’ stories, poems or skits and share your own. If you’re available on Wednesdays from 4 to 5 p.m., you can join other teens at the library or any time online. Questions? Talk to Jeanne at the Main Desk (336-1773 ext. 303) or e-mail

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We recently posted a survey on the CCFLS website asking patrons to tell us a little about their e-book reading habits. We had just over 130 responses. We will be using the information to help us decide what books to purchase for the CCFLS eStacks. We’d like to share the responses with you. The discrepancies with vote counts comes from the ability to select more than one answer in some questions or patrons not answering every question.

Question 1: What kind of device do you use to read e-books?

With 114 votes, just under half of the respondents use a Kindle. Computer and iPad, iPhone, iPod touch users were tied. Other kinds of devices listed were Sony Readers and Android phones and tablets.

 Question 2:  What kind of Fiction books do you want to read?

Mystery/Detective was the strong winner in this question with 32% of the 217 votes. Romance, Sci-Fi/Fantasy and Young adult books were the next highest at 16-17%. Write-ins included Historical fiction, Classics, and Graphic novels.

 Question 3:  What kind of Non-fiction books do you want to read?

Biography/History and How-to/Arts & Crafts took the lead here with 19% and 18% respectively out of 284 votes. Beyond that, the choices were fairly evenly spread with True Crime and Nature slightly ahead. Write-ins included Essays, Green living/Urban farming, and Travel.

 Question 4:  Where should we spend most of our e-book budget?

With two choices and 121 votes cast, 54% said they would rather have current best-sellers which cost more and would therefore mean fewer books while 45% said they’d rather have older titles and more books.

 Question 5:  How much do you think we pay for e-books?

MPL Director John Brice deals with this question in his column if you want more information on e-book pricing. With 120 votes, 40% said they thought e-books cost less than print books, 46% said they cost the same, and only 13% correctly said e-books cost us more.

 Question 6:  Please let us know a bit about you:

The largest number of respondents were females between the ages of 35 and 64 (44%). Women in general won out here with about 70% of the 119 votes.


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E-books are big. You’ve probably heard about them in the news, seen them advertised on TV and online, even read about them already in this newsletter.  Our new collection of e-books through OverDrive, the CCFLS eStacks, are not the only way Meadville Public Library provides you with electronic information, however.  The Reference collection has been moving toward e-books for a while now.   In fact, some of the first e-books available at MPL were in the Reference collection.   Through the Electronic Resources page (, you can access a number of databases but also many e-books.  Some publishers allow online access to the e-book version when we buy the print book.  For example, Magill’s Medical Guide is a six-volume set covering a wide range of medical issues.  Salem Press also has a Masterplots series if you are looking for overviews of literary works.  A new addition, Ancestry and Ethnicity in America, is available both in print and electronically.

The Gale Virtual Reference Library is our largest reference e-book collection with topics ranging from biography to business, education to environment, history to religion. Some of the books are only available online while others duplicate our print collection.

We also have a number of test-prep e-books available through the county system in the Learning Express Library.  This database allows you to take practice tests, as well. Lastly, eBooks on EBSCOhost offers a selection of fiction and non-fiction titles.

So, the next time you’re in need of a little knowledge, check out our Electronic Resources page.


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However you say it, say hello to Mango Languages, a new electronic resource available to Meadville Public Library patrons.

Mango Languages is an online language learning system that you can use in your own home. Choose from Basic or Complete courses. The Basic course teaches you some elementary phrases and cultural knowledge for 22 languages. If you want to learn more, choose the Complete courses which are aimed at students who want to move beyond basic language skills. There are currently nine Complete courses to choose from including Mandarin Chinese, French, German, Greek, Italian, Japanese, Portuguese, Russian and Spanish. Additionally, Mango provides Basic courses in 14 languages for English as a Second Language (ESL) learners.

Look for the Mango Languages button on the Library’s home page ( From home, you will need your Meadville Library card to log on, just like the Power Library databases. Enter your Power Library code (the blue sticker) starting with PL and then your eight-digit bar code. Create an account to keep track of your progress, pick a language and start conversing in a new language today! If you have any questions, feel free to contact the Library’s Main Desk , (814) 336-1773 ext. 303.

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One of the benefits of the reference collection is that the books don’t circulate. That means when you come to the library, you’ll know the book you’re looking for is on the shelf. However, it also means you need to have a few moments to look at the information you need. While using electronic reference from home (such as the Power Library resources) gets around this issue, the vast majority of reference works are yet to be, or may never be, made available electronically.

A reference collection works because reference books, by definition, are books that you won’t sit down and read from cover to cover. We’ve probably heard about someone who read through the encyclopedia as a kid, but he or she is the exception to the rule. Reference books are here to help answer your questions or lead you to other sources of information. Most people come, find the information they need, and use it to get on with their lives.

From the practical to the whimsical, we add new and interesting items to our collection every month. Recent additions include: Profiles of Pennsylvania, which provides statistical information about cities and towns in Pennsylvania; GED 2009-2010 for test preparation; Volunteer Vacations which lists opportunities to do good while getting away; The USERRA Manual and What Every Veteran Should Know, 2009 for our servicemen and women who are returning to work or need to find help; Warman’s Antiques & Collectibles Price Guide 2010 for yard-salers or auction-goers; and Hometown Declarations: America’s Self-Proclaimed World Capitals, in case you’re interested in visiting the Popcorn Capital of the World (VanBuren, IN) or the fireworks Capital of the World in nearby New Castle!

Next time you’re in the library, stop and look around the Reference Section. And, if you’re one of those
exceptional people who wants to read our reference books straight through, you’re certainly welcome to do that too.

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Like something out of a science-fiction novel, Meadville Public Library has an uncanny ability. It actually holds more information inside than you might expect from just looking at it. How do we do that? Is there some space-time rift allowing for the internal expansion of the library beyond the bounds of its bricks and mortar? Not exactly.

We have access to more information than could possibly fit in our three floors through our collaboration with other libraries in Pennsylvania. You probably know about our non-fiction and fiction collections for children, young adults and adults, our magazines and newspapers, our videos and music all available for you to check out when you stop by the library, but are you aware of the resources we have through our web site?

Whether you’re at MPL or visiting our web site, POWER Library is one such resource that offers
information on a range of subjects: Art, Auto Repair, Biography, Business, Children’s Resources,
E Books, Education, General Reference, Health, Literature, Music and Science plus additional magazines and newspapers. Thinking about buying a new snow blower and want to know what Consumer Reports has to say about what’s on the market? Is your child writing a school report about his or her favorite author? Looking for trustworthy information about an herbal remedy your neighbor suggested? All of these needs and more can be met through the offerings of POWER Library.

Look for the POWER Library icon on our home page or the POWER Library stations on the Main Floor. If you have questions or need assistance, remember you can always stop by the desk, give us a call, or email your questions to

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The Meadville Public Library has added a new reference service for
patrons who do not have physical access to the building and its collections.

Library users may send e-mail requests for help with specific questions by accessing the main page of the new library web site and clicking on the link to “Ask a Librarian”. The main floor library staff will then research information sources and send responses via e-mail.

Our plan at this time is to check e-mail once a day Monday through Saturday and send responses within two working days. The library is pleased and excited about this new service and expects that everything will run smoothly. However, we do ask for your patience and understanding in advance if minor difficulties are encountered.

Several new magazines and a newspaper have been added to the periodical collection. Main Floor patrons will be able to peruse Backpacker (for hiking enthusiasts), Foreign Affairs, Hispanic Magazine, and the Washington Post National Weekly Edition. Disney Adventures and Disney Princess may be found in the Children’s Room as well as Ask, Chirp, Click, Kids: Fun Stuff to Do Together (Martha Stewart for kids), Preschool Playroom, and Wild Animal Baby. Our teen patrons will want to check out Career World, ELLEGirl, Imagine, Ride BMX, Wizard: The Comics Magazine, and Teen Ink which are available in the Fiction Department. Several magazines have also been moved from the Main Floor to Fiction and include Game Pro, PC Gamer, Transworld Skateboarding, Transworld Snowboarding, and VOYA.

Unfortunately along with the additions there are some deletions. The library will no longer subscribe to Antiqueweek, Breakaway, Consumer Reports on Health, Fantasy & Science Fiction, and New York Times Upfront. We hope the new magazines will be enjoyed and the old ones missed only slightly.

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by Roseann Dies, Librarian

The Meadville Public Library has added more than forty new magazines to the periodical collection. A few of the titles include Bead & Button, Creative Crafter, Crochet Fantasy, and Memory Makers for craft lovers while gardening enthusiasts might enjoy checking out American Gardener and Country Gardens.

For our patrons who love to cook (or just love to eat), then Everyday Food, Food & Wine, and Gourmet should not be missed. Shoppers, please check out Lucky! For those interested in recreation and leisure activities, be sure to take a look at Backyard Living, Boating World, Flying, and Motorcyclist.

These and more new magazines are on display on the main floor of the library.

New magazines in the Children’s Room are American Baby, Discovery Girls, Junior Baseball, Young Dancer, and Young Rider.

The following new titles have been added to the reference collection:
Encyclopedia of Recorded Sound edited by Frank Hoffman (who just happens to be a librarian) is a two volume set that covers the history of recorded sound. The entries range from short definitions to lengthy essays and cover Thomas Edison’s disc to the MP3 player.
The New Biographical Dictionary of Film written by David Thomson contains 1300 entries about actors and directors of which 300 are new additions to the 1994 edition.

United States Holidays and Observances: By Date, Jurisdiction, and Subject authored by Steve Rajtar covers not only the United States but American Samoa, District of Columbia, Guam, the Northern Mariana Islands, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands. Fifty-one essays and more than 90 maps tell the story of how each of the fifty states became a part our nation in the new reference work titled The Uniting States: The Story of Statehood for the Fifty United States.

Library patrons who are interested in ebooks, may want to look at what is available through Access PA. To view the available titles please go to the Power Library site. From there click on Find a Book and then–net Library. There are 8,926 ebooks available and range from the classics of literature to more recent titles. The Help menu is quite detailed and should answer any questions that users may have about the NetLibrary site. One interesting feature is the ebook of the month. The selection for May is Blue Ocean Strategy: How to Create Uncontested Market Space and Make the Competition Irrelevant by W. Chan Kim and Renee Mauborgne. It was published in January 2005 by Harvard Business School Press.

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