It’s County Fair Time!

Congratulations to over 100 participants in this summer’s Teen Reading Program at the library earned a free ticket to the fair for completing a 750 page reading log. The Shenandoah County Fair, celebrating its 95th year, is one of the largest agricultural fairs  in Virginia. In addition to the great food, music and entertainment, there animal and crop exhibits, baked and canned goods exhibits as well as lots of photography and crafts exhibits.

Visit the library to find a wide variety of books related to all the activities you enjoy at the fair.  Check out the Book Barn, located in the reference area of the library. Built by Central High School FFA students and donated by the Farm Bureau, the “barn” features a variety of books on raising animals, homesteading and hobby farming.

Whether planning for next year’s blue ribbon entry,  learning a new craft or contemplating adding some animals to your homestead, visit the library for fun and informative books for the entire family.

Route 11 Yard Crawl Nets Record Sum for Library!

For the third year in a row there has been a huge outpouring of support from the Route 11 Yard Crawl buyers at the library’s booth in downtown Edinburg.  Donna Smith, our volunteer extraordinaire who spearheads this event for the library, spent many hours throughout the year collecting goods for the “crawl” that happens the second weekend of August in Shenandoah County.  In 2010 the sale earned $1033.  Last year it more than doubled that amount to $2130. And this year proceeds from the three days of selling were an astounding $2,938!  Nearly all was sold, INCLUDING the kitchen sink!  Donna had the help of her regular volunteers—Marlene Spindler, Sue Horne, Mo Eisen, Bobbie Sainz, Kaitlin Mantz , teens, and library staff—as well as son Andrew and husband Bill.  In fact, Bill joked that for those four days of moving, unpacking, and repacking he would be known as “Mr. Donna Smith”.  Bill and Andrew set up tables and canopies, ferried boxes from library to gazebo to yard, covered everything with plastic during the rains, uncovered and boxed the leftovers, and counted the proceeds.  After the final tally was done, Donna arrived at the library to hand over the hard-earned money to Cathy Stuter.

A decision was made last year to earmark the proceeds to fund programs for TAG, the Teen Advisory Group founded by Adult Services Librarian, David Robinson.  It was natural, then, that Robinson was able—with the promise of pizza—to entice some of the members to help move items from the Stone House basement to the lawn of Library Trustee member, Bobbie Sainz.  Pictured at left below is Donna getting assistance carrying items up from the basement and at right are Ben, David, and Tim Edelman, Damion Gilmore, and Hunter Bowers loading the truck.  Hooray for Donna, volunteers, and teens for a job well done!  Please clear your calendars for next August and watch for Donna’s pleas for help.  It’s a big fundraiser that could use many more hands to make light work.

Developing a Password Strategy

One large caveat of the Internet is that many websites require an account in order to utilize their functionality.  It seems as if a month cannot go by without hearing a website report that their users’ accounts have been compromised.  Couple this information together and you’ll start to feel paranoid.

I hate to break it to you, but you should be tad paranoid. You should also have a password strategy to protect yourself and your information.

One of the first things you should do is classify the websites where you have accounts. These classifications can be broken down to Critical, Important and Non-Critical. In the critical category, you would find things like your bank accounts; Facebook, LinkedIn and other social networking sites; and your e-mail.

If a website is tied to your finances or would allow someone to impersonate you, it is Critical. Important category items would lean toward web services that you use like Netflix, Hulu, iTunes, etc.  These are types of sites that have a higher level of importance that you also use frequently. At the Non-Critical level you’ll find websites that you go to infrequently.  Once you have an idea of what websites fit into which category, you’ll need to come up with some Strong passwords.

Strong passwords are not able to be easily broken or guessed.  They’re not words that you would find in a dictionary or encyclopedia.  A strong password is made up of 8 or more characters consisting of uppercase, lowercase, symbols, and numbers.  The larger the number of characters, the better the security.

Try a website like Password Strength Checker to get an idea of what makes a password Strong.  Once you have an understanding of what makes a password strong, you can come up with a strategy for coming up with the combinations.  The easiest is the use of a pass-phrase.

The end result looks complex but will be easy to remember after typing it several times.

By using the first letter of each word in a sentence, the characters are randomized sufficiently but still can be retained in your memory.  Add a number sequence and a symbol or two and the password will be strong.  Having this sentence written down would be confusing as well since the password has nothing to do with the city where you were born.

After that, try following these tips:

Critical Websites –  These sites should receive their own unique password.  The passwords chosen should be at the strongest level that you can still remember in a pinch.  About every year, change the passwords so that each site has a new unique and strong password.

Important Websites – These sites can receive a password that you may share with other important sites.  The passwords chosen should still be strong, but because you may use these sites frequently, you might want to have a password that you can recall quickly.  Once you have it memorized, start rotating in other passwords until you have about five rotating passwords at the same time.  Just be sure to change up the passwords as well as dropping old passwords for newer ones.

Non-critical Websites – These sites can receive a password that is usually shared with lots of other non-critical sites.  The passwords chosen does not need to be necessarily strong, but should be easy to remember and at least have a letter/number combination.

By having a strong password and a strategy behind their use, you will help protect your information and online identity from being an easy target.

Hurricane and Tropical Storm Tracking

If you are traveling or cruising through the Caribbean or Gulf Coast during hurricane season, you might want to check out the National Hurricane Center’s website to see if there might be a storm on the horizon.

National Hurricane Center is part of the National Weather Service and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).  They track Tropical Storms and Hurricanes as well as monitor potential storms.  You can check storm or hurricane’s projected paths, see potential upcoming storm probabilities, and check various radar and atmospheric imaging and other tools.

Using these tools, you can see how far a storm can travel in a day and what areas will be affected.  There’s even the capability to see what storm systems could be forming on the other side of the Atlantic ocean.  Those systems might be weeks away from the Caribbean.  If you’re going on a cruise, this will give you a heads up to check with your cruiseline’s website for more detailed information.  It will allow you to be better prepared if your ship has to take a detour or skip a scheduled port.  For a land-based vacation, you might want to have a contingency plan in mind.

What Font Is That?

Ever been in a situation where you need to identify what font was used for a document or design?  You can use the Identifont (http://www.identifont.com) website to find the answer.

Using a step by step visual quiz about different letters, numbers, and symbols, Identifont can eventually figure out what font was used by comparing answers to their database.  You can also search by keyword, name, similarity, and even designer if you know more about the typeface.  Once finished with your search, you’ll be presented with a sample sheet of the font, information on the design and company as well as to obtain or use the font.

E-books: no download required!

Are you interested in e-books but don’t have an e-reader? Or maybe you don’t know how to download them? We have you covered! You can now check out an e-reader, preloaded with 10-12 popular titles, at any one of our six locations.

Starting on July 20, we loaded twenty two Barnes & Noble Nooks with popular titles such as Fifty Shades of Grey, and the Hunger Games Trilogy and started offering them for checkout. We think this is a great way for you to read the books you want, the way you want them, even if you don’t own an e-reader. You can check these out for two weeks, renew them, and place holds just like a book. And all you have to do is turn it on and start reading! The only thing you need to check these out is a valid library card – no computer, internet connection or account registration required!

Visit any of our six locations to learn more and check one out for yourself.  We have six different collections – bestseller fiction, popular non-fiction, mystery/thriller, romance, teen, and christian fiction. Want to know exactly what’s loaded on these? Just search our library catalog for “nook collection” and Hope to see you in soon, and happy reading!

LEGO Club Builds Cooperation and More

At first glance, the continued popularity of LEGO bricks might appear to be the main focus of this elementary and middle school program. However, as Adult Services Librarian David Robinson commented last fall, “There is a lot more going on during LEGO Club.”

Children hear about upcoming library programs. Miss Diane, Children’s Librarian, provides brief book talks about new arrivals, materials recently acquired by the library. Participants work individually or cooperatively in small groups to create projects that are photographed by Mr. David. After a light snack, everyone helps with clean-up time before a LEGO-related door prize is drawn.

All of the above is in addition to further development of small motor skills by connecting, then separating the LEGO bricks in preparation for the next meeting. Adult caregivers often join in the fun, enhancing relationships during this quality time together. Many of the children like to log their attendance during Club meetings, taking pride in their continued participation as they meet and make new friends in a relaxed, yet educational, setting.

In response to requests from the public, we will begin offering a Preschool LEGO Club at 3:30-4 p.m Sept. 20 at County Library. A volunteer parent will supervise the program and all interested preschoolers (and their parents) are invited to join us on the first and third Thursdays of the month. Our regular LEGO Club, for children of kindergarten age and up, will resume “meetings” at 4:30 p.m. following a summer hiatus.

For more information about either LEGO Club, contact Diane Cary at 984-8200 x207.

80 Years of History – NVD Archives at the County Library

We are pleased to announce a partnership with the publisher of the Northern Virginia Daily to house their entire microfilm archive dating from September, 1932 through February 2012. An important part of the library’s mission is preserving the historical record. Having this collection on loan from the Northern Virginia Daily helps us fulfill that mission.

These issues cover daily life in the county, national and international events, and chronicle the lives of multiple generations of residents. Whether you’re looking for what was in the news on the day you were born, working on a history project, or trying to find an obituary for a family member, these pages are a great place to start your research.

Come out to the County Library in Edinburg and take a look! We have two microfilm machines, and staff available to help you get started. If you find what you’re looking for, you can scan it, print it, save it and even email it to yourself using our digital microfilm station. Want to know what other historical documents we have on microfilm? Make sure to check out our microfilm holdings online before coming in to do your research.

What’s that old thing worth anyway!?

Cleaning out the attic? Need to identify an item or determine a value for insurance purposes? Planning to search the Yard Crawl for hidden treasures? The library has a great online resource where you can find the answers to those questions – What is it? and How much is it worth?

The Price 4 Antiques Reference database contains information about collectibles, antiques and fine art  provided by over 140 major U.S. auction companies. The database is updated daily and each item listed has at least one color picture, a description, the sale price and date, and auction house name and contact information. Biographical and historical reference notes are added to many of the records.

A recent search for Strasburg pottery in the database found the following entry from March 3, 2012:

Considered rare, this stoneware face pitcher with profuse cobalt [blue] tulip decoration is attributed to Samuel Bell, Winchester or Strasburg, Virginia, circa 1835 to 1845. Nearly tripling the pre-sale estimate, this piece sold at auction for $63,250.00!

Want to explore for yourself? You will find Price for Antiques linked from the Research tab on the library website under Online Resources.

So whether you are a history buff, an avid collector or just looking forward to finding a treasure or two at the next estate sale you visit, Price 4 Antiques has something for you!

The Museum of Online Museums

If you plan on surfing the Web this summer instead of actual waves, be sure to visit “The Museum of Online Museums,” a great collection of links to all sorts of digitized collections.  You’ll find the tried-and-true represented, of course—works from the National Portrait Gallery and the Museum of Modern Art can be accessed from here, for instance—but the fun lies in browsing collections that are off the beaten track.  If you’re a fan of vintage advertising, take a look at USASODA, which collects pictures of soda drink items produced across the years.  If you’re an “arts and crafts” person, you might enjoy the “Treasury of Macramé Owls” Web site, which is neither more nor less than its name suggests.  As with all things Internet, you may find that some links don’t work, or some sites are not to your liking, but just as with any good museum experience, you may also discover a new passion.  Who knew that Radio Shack catalogs could be so intriguing?