25 Sources of Free Public Domain Books

Do you have an eReading device and are looking for a way to expand your personal library of digital books?  Spotted over at the website Ebook Friendly is an article listing 25 Sources of Free Public Domain Books.  Some of the Library’s favorites are listed (e.g. Project Gutenberg, Digital Public Library of America) as well as some more obscure (the sparse website: Projekti Lönnrot which provides public domain Finnish and Swedish books).

Public domain books are titles that have entered free use by the public due to their age.  They may be freely and legally copied.  Many are classics and due to the amount of storage space an eBook utilizes, can be easily kept on a device’s Library to beef up your personal reading selection.

Be sure to check the comments at the end of the article to see other readers’ suggested sites beyond the 25 in the article.

Look What We Found!

A section of George Keller’s Will (via the Hottle-Keller Association)

On Tuesday, April 9 at 6:30 Karen Cooper from the Hottle Keller Association will present a program about some of the rare historical documents found in the Shenandoah Germanic Heritage Museum  The event is free and open to the public at the Shenandaoh County Library in Edinburg. Come help us celebrate local history and our own archival research collections in the Shenandaoh Room and Truban Archives!

“Look What We Found!”  Papers and Memorabilia in the Shenandoah Germanic  Heritage Museum”.

The Shenandoah Germanic Heritage Museum is located at the Keller Homestead west of Toms Brook and 1 and 1/2 miles south of Mt Olive just off the Back Road (#623).  The papers fall into four main categories and span two centuries.  There are materials collected by Ephraim Baker, and these range from 1822 to the beginning of the Twentieth Century.  Among these are Civil War Bonds and letters, militia appointments, a militia list, items concerning the care for poor and indigent, requests for advice in handling government policies after the Civil War, IOUs store ledgers and much more.

There are several generations of Keller materials.  Some of them complement the Baker records, while others describe for us the importance of the Toms Brook area in the rebuilding of the County and the Valley after the Civil War.  The railroad, the development of modern modes of transportation and farming are clear from the many ads and items from this 1880s – 1940s time frame.

A collection on the Shaver Family and a large amount of Rosenberger information adds to our understanding. The history of the development of the Hottel Keller Association and the Hottel Keller Memorial, Incorporated, along with many pictures and materials about the extended Hottel and Keller families and their neighbors helps to fill in the picture of life in the extended Toms Brook, Fishers Hill, Mt. Olive, Saumsville area with its many small villages and extended trade networks.

The papers also give details about schools, churches and cemeteries.  Apples to England, Chevys from Detroit, opossums for credit, school books passed down through the generations – so many facets of our local every day activities are coming to life as these papers are unwrapped, and cataloged.  Many of these materials seem to have never been unfolded or unbound.

Laptop Security and Recovery

We’re all aware how much the cost of portable computing devices hits our wallet.  Cellphones, tablets, and laptops can be very expensive.  This also applies to the data they hold.  You can have all your personal identity saved away that would be easy to use for identity theft.  What options would you have if your device was lost or stolen?  There are frequent news reports of people tracking down a stolen phone or laptop and being able to call the police with proof.  These services usually cost an annual fee that can be quite prohibitive.  Now a security company has a FREE solution that let’s you track, monitor, and remotely control you devices through a website.

The website is “preyproject.com“.  After downloading the software and installing it on your device, you’ll also register with their site.  The site allows you to set options or activate items on the remote device.  You can do neat things like taking pictures through your device’s camera, getting a picture of what’s on the screen, showing the GPS location of the device, etc.  If someone is using your device, you can gather information and evidence.  Prey Project also offers a Pro version with more options, but the Free version is enough to pinpoint where your laptop is, take pictures of through the camera, see what the person is doing with the computer.  Once you have the location and evidence, you can contact the police and let them attempt recovery.

Technology Help

keyboardBecause computer technology has come to influence so many aspects of our lives, learning to be familiar and comfortable with it has become a near necessity.  However, given the rate at which such technology can change–just think of how many gadgets come out in a single year–it’s easy for anyone to feel overwhelmed at the prospect of learning and relearning new skill sets.

At the County Library, we understand how difficult it can be to “catch up” (or even “get started”) on developing these new skills, which is why we offer “Technology Help” every Friday from 1:30-4:30 pm. All of our assistance is provided on a one-on-one basis, and we focus on what you as a technology user would like to discuss. Would you like to learn how to operate that new eReader or tablet?  Bring it along, and receive an interactive, individualized tutorial.  Are you a job-seeker who’s new to the process for applying for jobs online?  Stop by for tips on navigating the application process, as well as using Microsoft Word or Google Docs to develop a résumé.  Of course, if you’ve not had much experience with computers at all, our “Technology Help” sessions are the perfect means of learning the basics, from using a mouse to searching an online database.

Keep in mind that our “Technology Help” sessions take place on a first-come, first-served basis.  Depending on the number of people who stop by on any given Friday, library staff may need to shorten individual sessions in order to accommodate everyone.  Moreover, while we are more than happy to introduce you to the “ins and outs” of technology, we are not in a position to troubleshoot or repair any devices.  We are here to help you learn at a comfortable pace, so give us a try!  If you have any questions, please contact us at 540-984-8200.

March is National Women’s History Month

“Women’s Education, Women’s Empowerment”

This year The National Women’s History Project (NWHP) celebrates those women who have “inspired innovation through imagination”.   They recognize in particular eighteen women with major achievements in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics, and provide a timeline of women who have been awarded the Nobel Prize in the Sciences.

In January, young girls and women in our area could find inspiration in the pages of a local You can do itnewspaper that recognized the achievements of two young women [see JMU’s website] who—along with 10 recipients statewide—were honored with the 2013 Outstanding Faculty Award by the State Council of Higher Education for Virginia.  It is not only their gender but also their fields of study that are particularly inspiring to women:  Olga Pierrakos is an associate professor of engineering and Laura Taalman is a professor of mathematics and statistics.  Both their careers and their achievements are perfect examples of those women featured this year by the National Women’s History Project.

The Library of Congress has also established a webpage to celebrate Women’s History Month.  Their focus is on “education as the empowering force behind the advancement of sufferage 3women”.  The editors of the site and NWHP note that women now outnumber men in American colleges nationwide and that this reversal of gender gap is a very recent phenomenon.  In fact, it is important for all of us to remind ourselves, our daughters, and our granddaughters, that the right for women to vote in a Federal election was granted by the 19th Amendment  in 1920, when many of our grandmothers and great-grandmothers would finally have been eligible to register and to proudly hang this paper banner [shown at right] in the front window of their home.

We encourage you to visit the library and check out our many resources on notable women.  There are role models from literature to real life…Anne of Green Gables to Hermione Granger…Rosa Parks to Hilary Clinton.  And then, to test your knowledge of the achievements of the many American women who have made significant contributions to our nation and to all mankind, we challenge you to take this quiz provided by The National Women’s History Project.  YOU CAN DO IT!

boook and stars

Virginia Festival of the Book March 20-24, 2013

book and starsClose to home is an amazing opportunity to immerse yourself in the world of writers, the writing process and the joy of reading. The Virginia Festival of the Book is a 5 day festival of literary events open to the public that, with the exception of a few ticketed events, are free of charge. Produced by the Virginia Foundation for the Humanities (VFH) and held throughout Charlottesville and Albemarle County, the purpose of the Book Festival is to bring together writers and readers and to promote and celebrate books, reading, literacy, and literary culture.

Programs for adults and children are held in more than 50 venues throughout the region and include traditional author readings, book signings and a book fair. Also included is panel discussion on how to publish a novel; a beginning a book club; a workshop on book-binding, a special traveling exhibit of miniature art books and numerous other selections. Popular authors making appearances include C.J. Box discussing his novels (a paid, ticketed event) and U.S. Poet Laureate Natasha Trethewey, reading from her latest collection, Thrall. Rita Mae Brown will be a special guest speaker for the Blue Ridge Chapter of the Virginia Writers Club, where authors included in the 2013 Blue Ridge Anthology will read from their work. Children are treated to a StoryFest day of children’s authors and storybook characters on Friday, including a 50th birthday celebration for Clifford.

To plan your literary adventure, visit www.vabook.org to explore the events schedule with times, locations, and ticket information.

Crafting by the book…….

The Daisy Cloche featured on the cover is reminiscent of the flapper style from the Great Gatsby era.


What would Jane Austen have on the needles right now? What would you wear on a visit to Pemberley or Cranford? The craft publishing world and blogosphere is abuzz with knitting and crocheting projects inspired by our favorite books and literary characters. The new book Literary Knits includes 30 patterns inspired by classics including Lord of the Rings, Jane Eyre and Pride and Prejudice.


Each of the designs found in AUSTENtatious Crochet is a reflection of the Regency style worn by Jane and sought after today by ardent fans. Seven chapters focus on different themes found in Austen’s novels: comfort, love, satisfaction, etc. In addition to patterns for a variety of skill levels, there are features on Austen-era style, trivia quizzes and fashion related quotes from Austen’s correspondence. Crocheters can visit the author’s website to watch videos of the techniques used throughout the book.

Photo: Stock Montage/Getty Images

While on the subject of all things Jane,  we celebrate the publication of Pride and Prejudice 200 years ago this week. Visit the library to peruse the display of fiction titles, biographies, audio books and DVDs on the works of Jane Austen. Look for new book titles coming to the library soon: The Real Jane Austen: a life in small things by Paula Byrne  and Celebrating Pride and Prejudice: 200 Years of Jane Austen’s Masterpiece by Susannah Fullerton.

A Sensible Shawl from Jane Austen Knits Fall 2012, published by Interweave Press.


Need your Jane fix right away? Download Pride and Prejudice  on your e-reader right now…..or if you are a knitter, download an audio version of your favorite Austen title and get out those needles!

No two snowflakes are alike…..

This phrase was coined by Wilson A. Bentley (1865-1931), a self taught farmer and photographer from Jericho, Vermont. As a teenager, he became fascinated with snowflakes and capturing their images. His parents spent their savings to purchase him a bellows camera with its own microscope, thus launching Bentley as a pioneer in the area of photomicrography. He is credited with having taken the first
Bentley photographed over 5000 snow “crystals” or snowflakes in his lifetime, publishing the 1931 book Snow Crystals, containing more than 2400 images. He also published numerous articles on his work and his much sought after glass plate negatives have been collected by colleges and universities across America.

A wonderful introduction to Bentley’s work is the youth biography Snowflake Bentley written by Jacqueline Briggs Martin and illustrated by Vermont artist Mary Azarian. The book won the Caldecott Medal for the most distinguished American Picture Book in 1999.
Visit the official Snowflake Bentley website, maintained by the Jericho Historical Foundation, for a wealth of resources related to Mr. Bentley’s work and the magical snowflake images he  managed to capture forever in time.

Baby Love Baby Shower

First-time parents of infants and first-time parents-to-be, will have a new and unique opportunity to learn about community resources, and celebrate the upcoming or recent birth of their babies, at County Library’s initial Baby Love Baby Shower on January 10 at 6:30 p.m.

The goal of this special event is to share information as together we care for and educate children from local neighborhoods. Seven exhibitors, plus the library, will have staff available on site to assist attendees during the hour-long gathering.

Each family will be invited to decorate a baby gift to take home, receive a free book, enjoy refreshments, and possibly win one of several door prizes. A flier, reminding parents of County Library’s weekly Books & Babies storytimes for infants through 24 months, Thursday mornings at 10:30 a.m., will also be distributed.

For more details, contact Miss Diane, Children’s Librarian, at 540-984-8200 x207. County Library is located at 514 Stoney Creek Boulevard in Edinburg.

Try Before You Buy

Now is the time of giving and receiving.  To help those patrons who may be buying or receiving new eReaders, tablets, or computers this season, we at the library will be holding “Try Before You Buy” workshops throughout December and into January.  (You can download a full schedule here).  At these workshops, friendly and experienced staff will be on hand to answer any questions you may have.  You’ll even have a chance to play with the devices yourself!

To keep pace with the number of changes in the gadget world, we’ve outfitted our “technology zoo” with even more devices than last year.  Here’s a breakdown of what you can expect to see:


Designed primarily to facilitate reading—as opposed to playing games or watching movies—eReaders offer the clarity of paper but have been hampered heretofore by an obvious shortcoming:  the need for external light in dark environments.  This year saw the emergence of illuminated eReaders such as the Nook Glowlight and the Kindle Paperwhite.  These devices come with built-in lights, and we have examples of each for you to try.


Perhaps no category of gadget has seen more growth or development than the tablet.  Offering users a great deal of flexibility with respect to common computer tasks, such devices come in a variety of sizes and support a variety of applications and functions.  Find out what suits your interests by comparing the latest offerings from leading companies, including Apple’s iPad Mini, Google’s Nexus 7 and Nexus 10, Amazon’s Kindle Fire, and Barnes and Noble’s Nook HD.


Despite the strong growth of mobile devices, many users still turn first to desktop or laptop devices when performing computer tasks.  Microsoft and Apple remain the main players in the development of computer operating systems, and as luck would have it, each company released significant upgrades this year.  If you’re in the market for a new desktop or laptop this holiday season, you’ll want to explore the changes and improvements made by Windows 8 and Mountain Lion, both of which are represented in the library’s “technology zoo.”

At the library, we’re always focused on remaining up-to-date on technological developments and thereby providing the best service to our patrons.  We hope you can make it to one of our “Technology Open Houses.”