Tag Archives: Helpful Hints

Fun With Evergreen: Window-Shopping Your Next Read

I don’t know about you, but looking for a new book to read can stir up some pretty conflicting emotions.  On the one hand, the idea of finding a super-terrific, gripping, emotional, can’t-put-down, talk-to-strangers-about-it, miss-your-bus-stop-because-you’re-reading book is the kind of thing for which I go on living.  But when you’re finished with that book, how can you tell which book to read next?

Or perhaps you found a new favorite author, and are eager to put all her books on hold right now…is there a way to know that all of her other books are as gripping and intriguing and well-written as the one in your hands?

Or maybe you and a younger reader in your life are looking for a book to share.  How can you tell if the book is the correct reading-level, or has a story that will keep you both interested?

One solution to this conundrum, clearly, is to seek out the book yourself and give it a browse.  But if that book lives far-away, on the shelves of another NOBLE library, that just isn’t feasible.  So what is a reader to do?

Well, one option is to window shop that book via our online catalog.

The NOBLE catalog is linked to Google Books, which allows readers to see a preview of any book listed in both places.  This means the process is not a fail-safe one, as it relies on the book being both in the NOBLE network and in Google Books, but it is a helpful tool in most situations.

Here’s how it works:

Find a book you are interested in reading on our catalog.  For this example, I have chosen Mick Herron’s Reconstructionseeing how it’s a book I want to read.  Here is the page in our catalog (please click on the image to enlarge it):

If you look on the right-hand side of the page, you will see a link to Google Preview:

Note the stellar hand-drawn arrow, as well!

Clicking on the “Google Preview” will open a new browser window that will allow you read the first few pages of the book in question.  Your page may look slightly different depending on the book you selected, but here is Reconstruction:

From here, you can scroll down the page to read the opening of the book.

While this tip won’t save you from all book-related heartaches and disappointments, it is a nifty way to meet a book before committing to it, and also a fun way to meet new books that you might not have considered reading before.

Check in soon for some more fun tips and tricks to help you find your new favorite reads in Evergreen!

Access The New York Times Online! (Yes, you can do that with your Library Card)

In our quest to bring you ever better service, and even more nifty digital tools, we are proud to announce, beloved patrons, that you can now access The New York Times online with your library card!

You will need to have a current Peabody Library Card in order to access the NYT, but if you have that, the process is quite easy:

You can click on the banner on our homepage, which looks identical to the image above.  Alternatively, you can click on this link to get started.  Alternatively (again), you can click on the “eLibrary” section of our homepage, select “Articles/Databases”, and, finally, select “New York Times”

Any of these options will take you to a registration/login screen, where you will be asked to enter your Library barcode and “online catalog password”, which is the pin number you use to log into your Library Account.  If you aren’t sure what you pin is, give us a call at the Library and we can sort you out.
(Again, you can click on these images to enlarge them)

Click “Login”

You will be taken to a screen that has an offer code.  Mine is below, but that code won’t work for you:

Click “Redeem”

This will take you to a screen where you can complete your NYT account:

Enter your email address and create a password.  When you click “Sign Up”, you may see one of those pop-up windows where you have to prove you’re not a robot by clicking on picture, like this one below:

Once you’ve proven your humanity, you will be taken to a welcome screen from which you can access the New York Times.  An email confirmation will also be sent to the email you provided.

*An Important Addendum*:  When you redeem your offer code, you will see a message that says your account is only good for three days, like this one below:

Please know that this 72-hour window applies only to the amount of time you can access the portal without having to log back into your account.  Once the 72 hours expires, you can access it again by re-entering your Library Card Number and password.  When you see the registration screen, click “Log In”, where you can enter your email and password.  You will then be given another 72 pass. This allows the good people at The New York Times to monitor usage of the service.  Our apologies to anyone who may have found this part of the process confusing or misleading.

If you have any questions, or need some help with the set-up process, please give us a call or stop in and chat with one of your friendly Information Librarians.

We hope you enjoy this new digital resource!  Please let us know if there is anything else we can do to serve you best!


Saturdays @ the South: When you just don’t have the time

Not everyone is a reader (for those of you clutching your pearls or gasping, please breathe). It took me a very long time to understand this concept. Books have been a part of my life from birth. They comprise some of my earliest memories to the point where I cannot remember a time when I wasn’t reading. Friendships have been forged on the common like/dislike of books. But this isn’t the path for everyone.

Some people do not read, and this is a valid life choice. That’s why the library offers DVDs or programs and many other offerings for people who don’t find reading to be particularly their bag. But increasingly, I’ve spoken with many people who want to read more, but can’t find the time. This is completely understandable. Busyness seems more inherent in daily life, and let’s face it, sitting down to read can feel like a commitment, maybe even homework if you’re reading something you don’t enjoy. But reading doesn’t have to be a huge commitment. It can be captured in the drips and drabs of those elusive bits of free time. For those of you who are looking to beef up their reading lives, or are looking to incorporate books into your life, I have a few suggestions.

There are plenty of articles that offer ways to make the most of your reading time. Many of their points I agree with. Some seem a bit gimmicky to me. So in the spirit of librarianship, I thought I’d curate the six tips I find most practical in a digestible format. For those of you who are loyal readers, you can probably guess what’s coming next. Yup, I’ve put together an infographic for you (click on it for a larger image you can expand)!

These particular tips are tried-and-true for me. I’ve incorporated reading into my daily routine and while I haven’t put it specifically on my calendar, I do find time in my day that I carve out specifically for reading. The one thing that I think surprises most people is the encouragement not to finish a book. Some people are dead against this, but I found my reading life to be so much freer when I allowed myself to put down a book I wasn’t enjoying  and pick up something that enticed me more. This doesn’t mean never, ever go back to it. Maybe make a mental note to return to it when you have the headspace for that particular story. But why force yourself?

Audiobooks are pretty well celebrated here on the blog, and for good reason, but that doesn’t mean that every audiobook is for every person, so if you’re trying to read more and would like to give audiobooks a try,  know that some people prefer listening to a certain type of book or narrator that can engage them in the story. Be prepared to experiment!

All of these are tips that can hopefully help people get back on track with their reading lives (or perhaps even start one!), but please remember that the library is here for you for more tips and to help you find that un-put-downable book or that audiobook narrator that’s hits your listening sweet spot.  Till next week, dear readers, let us know what you want to get out of your reading life. You can be sure that we’ll do everything we can to help!

Saturdays @ the South: A Pinterest Primer

imagesWe’ve mentioned Pinterest a few times here on the blog because we at the Library use it as a resource for creating booklists for our patrons. It’s a great tool for keeping our patrons updated with the latest books; introducing them to what we call “read alikes,” books that, if you liked book X, you may also like these similar titles; and suggesting books that fit into a certain theme. All of the titles we feature on Pinterest have links directly to the catalog so that interested patrons can request those books with fewer clicks and no searching. But one thing I’ve noticed is that here on the Free For All we’ve never instructed those who may need it how to use Pinterest. I’ve had a few patrons mention how they find Pinterest intimidating, so I thought I would give a bit of a Pinterest primer to provide those of you who would like to take advantage of this tool, can do so without being overwhelmed.


Let’s start with the basics. Pinterest is like a digital version of a cork board or bulletin board that people use to put ideas they like, things that inspire them or helpful hints they’d like to remember or refer to later. It is an image-based social media tool, so unlike Facebook or Twitter, what you respond to and view are pretty much exclusively pictures with minimal to no words. If you like a picture you can “pin” it, i.e. click on it and save it to a board. You can organize those pins onto different boards depending upon themes. When you go to the Library’s Pinterest page, we have many boards on the site,  each with its own theme. Each of our pins is almost exclusively the image of a book cover whose title will relate to that board.

Unfortunately (and this wasn’t the case when the Library first started using the site), you need to have a Pinterest account in order to click on pins. Singing up is free and all you need is a valid e-mail address. You will be asked to pin a few things and create a board to get started, but after the initial setup, you don’t have to pin anything unless you care to do so. If you choose to follow either a pinner or a board, new pins posted by these sources will appear in your home screen. I think this is where people tend to get overwhelmed because it is an uncurated blast of information. The good news is that once you have a Pinterest account, you can visit the site of pinners (like the Peabody Library, or other libraries who have great boards) and see what they have to offer without reviewing your feed. Simply go to the direct link for their site (ours is www.pinterest.com/peabodylibrary) and you can see what might be new there. You can browse through boards that interest you by clicking on that specific board. You don’t need to pin books in order to request them. Simply click on the book cover to open the pin, then click the book cover again to be taken directly to the catalog so you can request the book your interested in. You don’t even need to follow the library (though we’d love it if you did) in order to access our boards or request books.


If you decide pin stuff, you can use Pinterest as a de facto hold list by creating a “things I want to read” list (or “things I want to see” list as we have movies listed on Pinterest, too!) if you see things you like but don’t want to read them right away; but don’t forget you can also suspend your holds in your library account. If you don’t want Pinterest to bombard you with notification e-mails (this is a BIG issue for many of us with bloated inboxes) you can make sure Pinterest won’t send you notifications in your settings:



I wanted to offer this post in the hopes that those who are vaguely aware of Pinterest and the fact that the Library uses it as a tool would be more comfortable discovering what we have to offer there and know that Pinterest can be a fairly passive form of social media that doesn’t have to infringe upon what may be already overloaded screen time. If you do use Pinterest, in any capacity, let us know how you use it and how we might make our site better for you! Till next week, dear readers, know that all of the library’s tools are here for you anytime.

Saturdays @ the South: Summer Cleaning??


Most people think of the “lazy, hazy, crazy days of summer” during this time of the year. It’s easy enough to do, especially on scorching hot days when the Peabody water ban has been turned to “Mandatory.” But on those rainy days when outdoor summer  fun isn’t an option, or those unseasonably chilly days when it feels like we’re having October in July, sometimes it’s not always easy to think of what to do indoors.

While I’m a big fan of crafts and watching those DVDs borrowed from the library, I also use some of my summer time for organizing and cleaning. Spring and fall cleaning tend to be more popular with people as the shoulder seasons are times of renewal and, quite frankly, better weather; but for me, spring is the season of allergies which keep me from getting as much as I want done and fall is the time of year when I prefer to be outside and enjoying the weather, colors and smells of the season. So I tend to get my cleaning and organizing done during the summer and winter season when the weather (and my general preference) is more likely to keep me indoors.


If your fortunate enough to have air conditioning or it’s one of those weird, cool New England summer days, you might want to consider tackling some of those indoor projects. Fortunately, were here at the South are ready for your organizing and cleaning needs with an array of books that will help you tackle those projects.

2692046Organize your whole house: Do it yourself projects for every room! by ed. Family Handyman

Organizing your whole house might be a bit ambitious for any one organizing project, but this book is broken down by each room, so you can tackle one at a time without putting too much onto yourself. It’s also put together by the editors of Family Handyman magazine, so you’re bound to get some great, tried-and-true tips that go beyond fad organizing.

3739867Cut the clutter: a simple organization plan for a clean, tidy home by Cynthia Townley Ewer

This book is a brand new one that just came in a couple of months ago to the South Branch, and it hasn’t spent much time on the shelf. At all. Ewer organizes her book first with philosophies about organizing a home (don’t let the P-word scare you off; her philosophies are just as clear and simple as the rest of her ideas) and then has separate chapters for sections of the home, rather than rooms. She has plans for food, surfaces, clothing and paper, all handily organizes to take you from start to organized finish with great clutter-busting tips.

3760330101 Easy homemade products for your skin, health and home by Jan Berry

This book is as beautiful as it is helpful. Using essential oils and other natural items, Berry guides the reader through recipes for homemade products, including great non-toxic solutions for cleaning your home. This is a great time of year for this type of book as many of the ingredients, like sunflowers and basil are readily available in their fresh forms.

3753601Mind your manors: tried-and-true British household cleaning tips by Lucy Lethbridge

Ever wonder how places like Downton Abbey stayed spotless? This book gives you the inside scoop on how the servants kept those sprawling British mansions in tip-top shape. Some of these cleaning hints have been lost to more modern styles of cleaning, but these tips rely less on manufactured chemicals while still minimizing elbow-grease. Perfect for warmer-weather cleaning!

If this post doesn’t have you convinced that summertime might just be the right time for tackling some of those indoor projects, never fear. The South Branch has some great fall programs coming up next month that will help you with the more traditional fall-cleaning binges including: Moon Signs where you’ll learn about how the moon (and maybe not the seasons) can help you figure out when to tackle a house project and Creating an Organized and Efficient Life with tips from a professional organizer. Till next week, dear readers, whether you prefer your cleaning in warmer climes or more traditional times, just remember that the library is here all-year-round with resources to help you.

Saturdays @ the South: Change afoot…

The library as a concept is a living, breathing organism that changes all the time. We have to because the communities we serve are constantly changing. Needs change, tastes change and ideas change and it’s our job to try and keep up to make sure that our communities are able to use the library for exactly what they want and need, not what we tell them they want or need. Sometimes these changes come in the form of a new program or service, sometimes it’s a new policy designed to make sure that the patrons are treated fairly. Whatever it is, we always hope it’s for the best.


I’m sure many of you (perhaps all of you) use some form of inter-library loan (ILL). No matter how hard we try, any individual library (especially one as small as the South Branch) can’t have enough space or budget to purchase every single item that every patron would want (try though we may). That’s why being part of the NOBLE consortium is so beneficial to both North Shore library professionals and our patrons. Getting books from another library that your home library may not have is a huge boon for all of us, and this information is unlikely to surprise any regular library user.  You may not know, however, that libraries in the NOBLE system have a feature called “holds go home.” This means that Peabody patrons have preference for books circulating from the Peabody Libraries.


This week was the start of something new, not just for the Peabody Library, but for all the libraries in the NOBLE system. The due dates for books circulating through the ILL system have been standardized for when an item goes out from its home library. Peabody books picked up from a Peabody location will still have the same due date rules we always have: 2 weeks for a new book; 3 weeks for a book on the shelf more than 1 year, or audiobooks, or large print books; 1 week for DVDs and music CDs. However, if borrow an item from another NOBLE library and pick it up at a Peabody location, there will be a standard due date for any item from a library outside of Peabody: 2 weeks for any book, 1 week for a media item.


This is likely to cause a bit of confusion for a brief time because some libraries have wide due date discrepancies and post stickers on book spines such as “7 Day Loan” and some libraries will give as much as 4 weeks with a book or a DVD that’s a TV series. With the new system in place, regardless of what the item may tell you, if it came from a library outside of Peabody, you’ll have 2 weeks with a book and 1 week with a DVD. For most people, this won’t cause any issue, but for those of us who have extensive hold lists, we may have to adjust our strategies slightly. If you’re at all concerned as to whether you’ll be able to read/watch/listen to all of your items by the due date posted, might I suggest you take advantage of suspending some of your holds. I’ve talked about suspending holds previously here, with step-by-step instructions on how to do it. This will allow you to stagger when your holds come in and, if you’re in a long queue for an item you will not lose your place in line.


Because of the “holds go home” rule embedded in the system, if you have an item on hold and one of the Peabody Libraries has a copy, you are more likely to get the Peabody copy and possibly have a slightly longer due date. This standardization of due dates, however, will not affect our level of service and dedication to our patrons. The only thing that will possibly change is the due date on your receipt. (FYI- if you don’t have one already, feel free to ask about the magnetic receipt holders that have been generously provided by the Friends of the Peabody Institute Libraries.) You also have the opportunity to take advantage of our digital services like Overdrive and the newly added Hoopla for downloading and streaming of ebooks, audiobooks, music and videos .

Standardizing can be a good thing in a lot of ways; it allows procedures to be less confusing overall in the long run and it helps us treat everyone equally and fairly, which is something a public library should always keep as a top priority. But when any change takes place, it takes a bit of getting used to. If you ever have questions about library policies or any changes that have taken place, never hesitate to ask your friendly Peabody Library employee! We’re here to help and serve. Till next week, dear readers, know that we’ll never stop working, and occasionally implementing changes, to make the Library serve you the best it possibly can!

Saturdays @ the South: Easing some book anxiety


We’ve all been there. You order a book, wait for your hold to come in and you *finally* get the e-mail (or call or text) that says your book has arrived and is ready for pickup! You bring your hurried anticipation to the library and take the book home with you to curl up and read (possibly in your blanket fort) and then…. deja vu. The words seem awfully familiar, character names are starting to ring a bell. Suddenly you realize…. you’ve read this book before! Cursing mildly  you think: How could this have happened? Was the cover different? Shouldn’t you have recognized the title? And suddenly, mournfully, you’re left lacking your expected reading material. Yes, you could read this book again (rereading is always an option) but not necessarily when you’ve had your heart set on a new reading experience, wanting to introduce yourself to new characters or re-discovering favorite characters in new situations. Very simply, you’re not in the mood to read this particular book again and you’re left disappointed and suddenly anxious about whether or not this will happen again.

dog-1126025_640We’ve discussed book anxiety here on the blog a bit these past couple of weeks, ensuring that people know that book anxiety can be a normal part of being a reader. We talked about peeking at endings as a way to ease some reading anxiety (a technique that has long worked for yours truly), but there are also ways to ease the anxiety of wondering if you’re going to unexpectedly get a book you’ve already read before.

There are external options. Several of our wonderful patrons here at the South keep notebooks with lists of books they’ve read, keeping particular track of series so that they read them in order. When it comes to to series books, the KDL What’s Next database is a fantastic resource for knowing not only what authors have written in a series, but keeping them in order so you don’t accidentally give yourself spoilers when you’re not expecting to (almost as bad as getting a book you’ve already read!). They have a printer-friendly version so you can print out a list of series books without having to transfer them to your notebook.

For those more digitally-inclined, there is the option of Goodreads (which I’ve mentioned on the blog before), which is my go-to source for keeping track of books that I’ve read, want to read, enjoyed, and didn’t enjoy so much. The ability to “tag” books into categories makes it easy to find books when I’m in the mood for something in particular and it also allows me to keep track of books that I’ve read for my book club or other purposes, like professional books to help make myself a better librarian for my awesome patrons. This site also has the handy resource of showing different covers and editions for the same book so you don’t get a book you’ve already read that was repackaged by the publisher (and sometimes even republished under a different title! This happened to me. The pictures below are the same Bill Bryson text, but with different covers- title and all! ).


Some people, however, prefer not to add their information onto a massive social media site that asks even a few personal questions. This is perfectly acceptable as privacy is paramount here at the library (more on that in a bit) and we don’t want you to do anything that makes you uncomfortable. There is good news, however, because Evergreen, our handy checkin/checkout system allows you to keep track of the books you’ve checked out of the library! If you manage your account online (and we recommend that you do, particularly if you want to suspend holds for yourself) you can keep track of your books; you just need to tell your account to do do it for you. Here’s how:

Log into your account from the library’s website:

Account login

username password

Once you’re in your account, click on the “Account Preference” tab, then on the “Search and History Preferences” tab. Check the box that says “Keep history of checked out items?”:

history check
That note on the bottom about making sure your e-mail is valid is a helpful one! You can check and update your e-mail address in the “Personal Information” tab.

Make sure you hit the “Save” button at the bottom of the screen! You might have to scroll to get to it, but it’s important!:


Now you can go back into your account and everything you return to the library from the moment you’ve saved these new preferences, will be recorded in your history.  Unfortunately, it won’t backdate your history to everything you’ve checked out on your card, but it will note everything going forward. To access it, you only need to click on the “Items Checked Out” tab, then the “Check-out History” tab.


A couple of words about privacy (again). First, I used my account in order to show you how the history works and give you an example of the checked out history screen. I gave the library explicit permission to do this, otherwise something like this would never have appeared anywhere, let alone such a public forum.  Second, the wonderful people behind the desk who check out your books will NOT be able to see your history, even if your account is set to save it (and even if you ask them to). Your checkout history is accessible to you and you alone, because what you choose to read is your personal business and we consider your privacy to be the most important feature to using the library.

I hope this post has given some of you the opportunity to ease your anxiety about checking out a book you’ve already read unexpectedly. Until next week, dear patrons, may you never run out of new things to read. (That’s what the library here for, after all!)