Tag Archives: Library Tools

Yes, You Can Do That With Your Library Card!

Do you enjoy reading ebooks?  Do you enjoy listening to e-audiobooks?  Do you enjoy downloading titles from the Library?  (You probably should…we have oodles and oodles of titles, and are eagerly adding more regularly!)

If you answered ‘yes’ to these questions…Have you met Libby?

Libby is the bright, shiny, surprisingly easy-to-use and comprehensive app designed to help you access all the fantastic e-titles available from the Library!  It (she?) was developed by the good people at Overdrive, and allow you to access all the phenomenal titles available via Overdrive in just a few easy clicks.

Check it out:

Here are some of the neat things Libby can do:

If you have a card from more than one Library system, like the Peabody Library and the Boston Public Library, you can save both your card numbers in one app for easy use.

You can keep track of your reading history to remember authors or narrators you particularly enjoyed.

Libby also allows you to read zoomable graphic novels, or a picture book with read-along audio.

And the best part is that it’s really, surprisingly easy to down-load and use…take it from me, who openly bickers with computers on a regular basis.

We have lots and lots of information on Libby and on Overdrive–just come in and ask!  And for those of you looking to get started, click the links below to get the Libby app for your phone or tablet!

Click to access the Apple App Store

Click to access via Google Play

Click to access Microsoft (for Windows 10)

Fun With Your Library Catalog…

Our Library Catalog is a terrific resource for those of you looking for titles of books, movies, audiobooks, music, or other items you can check out from our Library and others in our system.  But did you know how much more you can discover through our catalog?

Evergreen, which is the system that supports our catalog, has a number of really interesting and helpful search features that can help you pinpoint the materials best suited to your needs, and we love taking the opportunity to highlight some of those.  But Evergreen is also fun for those who are just looking for something totally new and different, as well.  The “Subject” searches can sometimes be really illuminating–and sometimes a little strange.

In searches, “Subject” represents the Library of Congress Subject Headings–they are various terms and categories assigned to all books in order to help patrons find other books with similar subject material ( you can learn more about them here!).  You can find these subjects on the left-hand side of the screen any time you perform a search, like this one here that I ran on “Louisa May Alcott”:

Note: Click on these images to see larger, better quality versions!

You can also see the subject of a specific work at the bottom of that item’s page.  For example, here is are the subject headings for Paul Kalanithi’s When Breath Becomes Air:

These Subjects can be enormously helpful when you’re looking for another book like one you just finished, or you need to conduct research into a specific topic.  They are also really handy for playing “Fun With Your Library Catalog”.  In this game (which is, admittedly, a little nerdy), you try to find some very random, unexpected, but nevertheless, interesting Subject Headings in our catalog.

It’s a fun game, let me tell you, but it’s also quite time consuming, because I usually end up requesting the books I find, and then reading them, and then going off to find more…..Ok, so maybe “Fun With the Library Catalog” is a lifestyle, and less of a game.  But I can guarantee you, it’s one of the best ways to get to know the materials and the Libraries in our system, and also an inexpensive way to acquire a whole head-full of knowledge!

So here are a few of my favorite finds from “Fun With The Library Catalog”–feel free to let us know about your most random/entertaining/enlightening Library finds, or use these as your jumping off point for your own explorations!

SUBJECT: Potatoes>Social Aspects

Because social potatoes are the best kind of potatoes!  Under this subject heading, you’ll find Dr. Redcliffe Salaman’s The History of Social Influence of the Potatothe result of a lifetime of research into the history of this starchy treasure, and historian Larry Zuckerman’s The Potato: How the Humble Spud Saved the Western World.  The truth is, the potato, subterranean and dirty though it may be, has had a long and exciting history, and influencing culture and sustaining human beings in a way that I promise will surprise you!

SUBJECT: Food Habits>United States

Reading about the potato got me thinking about more cultures of food, which led me to this subject heading, which deals with what Americans eat, but also why they eat it, and how that food shapes American culture.  Within this subject heading, you’ll find The Taste of America, a book that travels the country to find the best foods in America, from spicy cheese to the juiciest oysters (talk about a fantastic form of wanderlust!).  You’ll also find Dethroning the Deceitful Pork Chop : Rethinking African American Foodways from Slavery to Obama, a book that looks at how Black people in America have used food as a kind of subversion and resistance–a fascinating series of well-researched articles that will help you rethink the power of food in our identity and culture.

“SUBJECT: Antarctica>Fiction”

This is actually a useful subject search for those who want to explore fiction from other places.  Simply enter the place you’re looking for in the space where I put “Antarctica”.  But if you, like me, are looking to get as far away as possible on your literary adventures, then use this subject search to find books like Cold Skin by Albert Sanchez Pinol, a chilling (har, har) tale about a young weather who finds no trace of the man whom he has been sent to the Antarctic to replace–just a deranged castaway who has witnessed a horror he refuses to name.  Or perhaps you’d enjoy Bill Evan’s Dry Ice, a techno-thriller about agribusiness, machines that can control the weather, and the woman sent to Antarctica to ensure the world’s safety.

Happy Reading, beloved patrons–and have fun!

In praise of distractions

Last week, we mentioned that you, our dear readers, might need a distraction.  And, in typing that, it made me consider how many times we use the word “distract”, and all its grammatical forms (distraction, distracting, etc.,) to refer to something in a negative light.

But the truth of the matter is that distractions can often be a good thing, and a positive addition to your work, learning, or daily life.  This is especially true if, as in so many things in life, you are healthy and mindful about your distractions.

Studies have shown that people who open themselves up more to sensory perceptions and engagement–listening to other people talk, hearing music, touching different surfaces and textures–actually engage more of their brain, and thus, their creativity, than people who force their brain to focus, without any outside input.  Distractions can also give your lizard-brain–the part of your brain always on the lookout for threats, danger, and stampeding elephants–a break, lowering generalized anxiety, and aiding in relaxation.

But distractions don’t just have to be mental.  They can be physical.  Getting up and moving engages muscles, and our bodies work better when more than one muscle group is engaged at any one time, usually doing the most mundane of tasks.  This is why you get your best ideas in the shower.  Or while going for a walk.  Or gardening.  You get the idea.

Finally, and this may be more a personal observation than a citeable fact…life is too short.  There are flowers blooming out there.  There are cat videos that will make you laugh.  There are interesting people doing interesting things, and your brain is wired to want to take those things in.  So rather than deny you, your mind, and your heart all those great things that make them happier, work better, and feel more fulfilled, why not just be more mindful of your distractions?  Perhaps plan them out?

Perhaps, let the Library help you find a few terrific distractions!  Here are some that I’ve come to appreciate enormously:

Making things:

Knitting is one of the few things in my life that I am totally confident in doing.  Thus, when I’m really stressed, or facing a particularly intimidating challenge, I usually bring my knitting along with me.  Taking a few minutes to walk away and knit, and get a few rows finished, gives me the morale boost I need to finish.  And best of all, when all is said and done, I actually have something to show for it!

If you, like me, finds solace in a ‘maker’s break’, then use your distraction time to try a new craft, like Brioche Knitting, Soutache (orate braided craftwork), or even baking eclairs!  A note: as ever, the Library Staff are more than happy to taste-test any pastries that you make using Library materials.

Listening to music:

I have music playing almost constantly while I’m working, as to many of the people I know.  But how often do you really, actually hear the music in your ears?

One day, when I was in the middle of Academic Writing and wishing I were somewhere and someone else, I read this post from Michael J. Nelson (yes, of Mystery Science Theater 3000 fame), that not only gave me pause to think, but provided one of those pieces of music that I just love to sit and hear.  Here is his post below:

Full text of the post, in case you need it:

Samuel Barber’s “Adagio for Strings” is so obviously great you are tempted to think that it’s always existed and take it for granted. It’s like Frost’s “Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening”: you so want to dismiss it because it’s been around too long and you’re supposed to like it.

But listen to it in its original form before he expanded it; the 2nd movement of his Op. 11 string quartet and you may hear it with fresh ears, to use a term that is anything but fresh.

Incidentally, the story goes that Barber sent the only existing score to Toscanini who returned it without comment. They met later and a visibly irritated Barber snubbed Toscanini, who caught up with him and said, “I know you’re angry because I sent the score back to you, but I plan to premiere it with the NBC Symphony.” A dumbfounded Barber asked how that was possible as it was the only score. Toscanini tapped the side of his head with a finger and said, “It’s all up here.”

True? Hell, I don’t know. But that’s the story and I’m sticking with it.

(if the link doesn’t go to the 2nd movement, it’s at about 8:40)


Watching Things:

Let’s be honest; sometimes there is nothing whatever to be done but just let your brain rest and enjoy some quality tv or movie time.  And here, the Library is also the perfect place to feed your need!  Check out Hoopla for free streaming videos, and our extensive DVD collection.  Might I recommend Fortitude, a phenomenally weird murder-mystery series set in the Arctic?  Or perhaps Pretty Little Liars, a show that has captivated patrons of all ages?  Or a raucous spoof like Mel Brooks’ Blazing Saddles?  Whatever your tastes, we are here, and delighted to help you find the perfect productive distraction for your busy lives!

Consumer Reports Now Available Online!

We here at the Library are always looking for shiny new items, services, and technology for you, our beloved patrons.  And this week, we are delighted to tell you about just one of those terrific resources: Consumer Reports!

Consumer Reports has been published since 1936 by Consumers Union, a nonprofit organization dedicated to unbiased product testing, consumer-oriented research, public education, and advocacy.  They deal in reviews and comparisons of consumer products and services based in part on reporting, but mostly on results from its in-house testing laboratory and survey research center. The magazine accepts no advertising, pays for all the products it tests, and, as a nonprofit organization has no shareholders.  So, essentially, you can count on what they say.  Take it from me.  I bought the washing machine they told me to.  I love it.

So if you, too, are looking for some product advice, here’s a quick guide to accessing Consumer Reports via the Library website.

Start at the Library’s homepage.  Click on the “eLibrary” tab, then “Articles/Databases” Note: Click on any of these pictures to enlarge them for easier viewing:

From there, navigate down the list to Consumer Reports:

The list is alphabetical

When you click on Consumer Reports, you will be redirected to a page where you will enter your Library Card number Note 1: This page will not appear if you are using a Peabody Library Computer.  Note 2: This service is only for Peabody residents with Peabody Library Cards.   Sorry about that one!

From there, click on “ConsumerReports.org”:

This will launch the Consumer Reports website.  From here, you can utilize all the resources that Consumer Reports has to offer, including a product-specific search option, articles on home improvement and DIY projects, news, and product comparisons that can help you with purchases from digital cameras to dryers, from laptops to blenders.  Click on the three little lines in the upper left-hand corner of the Consumer Reports home page to see all the super features they offer!


We truly hope this feature proves helpful to you, beloved patrons.  Feel free to give us a call, or stop in and chat with one of us at the Information Desk to see how Consumer Reports can help you, and about all the other terrific resources on offer!


On Book Stagnation and Readers’ Advisory

Did you ever have one of those days (or weeks….or months…) where you just couldn’t find anything to read?  Where every book you started failed to hold your interest through the first fifty (or twenty…or three…) pages?  Where even the covers annoyed you because you knew they weren’t the book  for you?   Where you genuinely begin believing you will never find another book to read ever again and there is no joy left in the world and all is darkness?

I’ve been there.

We’ve all been there–to a greater or lesser extent.  Your addiction to reading might not be quite as strong as mine, but I think you know what I mean.  It’s a more common issue for readers than we like to discuss.  Sometimes it’s a condition that Lady Pole has described here as a book hangover, when the last book you read was so good, so immersive, so engaging, that you don’t want to leave it’s spell once the final page has turned.   But sometimes, it has nothing to do with the last book you read.  Sometimes, it’s book stagnation.

We haven’t really discussed that one too much, but book stagnation refers to that feeling when you just can’t find a good book; when the publishing market and your personal tastes seem to be on very different pages (proverbially speaking).  Like when every romance novel I picked up wanted to be Fifty Shades of Grey.  If that was your thing, I’m very happy for you.  It just honestly did nothing for me.  Or every mystery I picked up featured a highly-detailed and gruesome murder, as told by the murderer, in the first pages (in italics, because all murderers talk in italics).  Again, if you enjoy these books, then I rejoice for you.  It’s just not my cup of tea at all.  Or when history books don’t have proper citations/footnotes/bibliographies.  That’s one that I refuse to tolerate, sorry.

But, thankfully, there is a remedy to both book hangovers and book stagnation.  And both can be found at the Library.  More specifically, from the people working at the Library.

Speaking for myself, one of my most favorite parts of the job is when a patron comes up and says that they like a certain author, or genre, or topic, and that they don’t like another genre, or a theme, or a type of plot, and asks me to help them find a new book based on that criteria.  Not only is it a fun challenge to find the bookish needle in the bookish hay of our stacks, but it’s also a true, heart-swelling moment of joy to talk about books and stories with another person, and connecting with another reader.  We may not see eye to eye about what makes a ‘great read’…in fact, we usually don’t.  And that makes it so much more fun, because it helps me appreciate the elements of a story that much more.

For example, I’ve had a long talk with patrons about scary stories.  And it was fascinating to learn what scares people in fiction.  For me, as we’ve discussed here, it’s a lot about the unknown, and the unexplored.  For others, it’s haunted houses.  For others, it’s true crime novels.  And for another, nothing was scary unless it had a soundtrack (so we headed to the DVD section of the Library).  Similar things happen with ‘funny’ books.  I delight in absurdities, while some patrons prefer black-as-night humor, and still others prefer humorous non-fiction like Erma Bombeck’s work, because the laughs come from empathy, rather than absurdity.

So imagine my joy when a fellow librarian friend of mine sent out a note to the Social Media last night saying that she was suffering from book stagnation and needed help!

I provide the recommendations she received in this hopes that it might encourage you to come in and find some new books for yourself, as well.

Here were the guidelines:

Books Recently Enjoyed:
The Rosie Project
A Man Called Ove

Military History, Contemporary Romance, Gruesome Details in general (though mysteries are ok in theory), scenes of animals or children suffering

(These are just a few of the huge pile that were suggested–feel free to check them out, or bring in your own list of ‘likes’ and ‘dislikes’ to get some more personalized recommendations!)


Joe Gould’s TeethJoe Gould believed he was the most brilliant historian of the twentieth century. So did some of his friends, a group of modernist writers and artists that included E. E. Cummings, Marianne Moore, William Carlos Williams, John Dos Passos, and Ezra Pound. Gould began his life’s work before the First World War, announcing that he intended to write down nearly everything anyone ever said to him. “I am trying to preserve as much detail as I can about the normal life of every day people,” he explained, because “as a rule, history does not deal with such small fry.” By 1942, when The New Yorker published a profile of Gould written by the reporter Joseph Mitchell, Gould’s manuscript had grown to more than nine million words. But when Gould died in 1957, in a mental hospital, the manuscript was nowhere to be found. Then, in 1964, in “Joe Gould’s Secret,” a second profile, Mitchell claimed that the book had been, all along, merely a figment of Gould’s imagination. Lepore, unpersuaded, decided to find out.

The Soul of an OctopusSy Montgomery’s popular 2011 Orion magazine piece, “Deep Intellect”; about her friendship with a sensitive, sweet-natured octopus named Athena and the grief she felt at her death, went viral, indicating the widespread fascination with these mysterious, almost alien-like creatures. Since then Sy has practiced true immersion journalism, from New England aquarium tanks to the reefs of French Polynesia and the Gulf of Mexico, pursuing these wild, solitary shape-shifters. Octopuses have varied personalities and intelligence they show in myriad ways: endless trickery to escape enclosures and get food; jetting water playfully to bounce objects like balls; and evading caretakers by using a scoop net as a trampoline and running around the floor on eight arms. But with a beak like a parrot, venom like a snake, and a tongue covered with teeth, how can such a being know anything? And what sort of thoughts could it think?

Hidden Figures : the American dream and the untold story of the Black women mathematicians who helped win the space raceStarting in World War II and moving through to the Cold War, the civil rights movement, and the space race, [this book] follows the interwoven accounts of Dorothy Vaughan, Mary Jackson, Katherine Johnson, and Christine Darden, four African American women who participated in some of NASA’s greatest successes. It chronicles their careers over nearly three decades they faced challenges, forged alliances, and used their intellect to change their own lives, and their country’s future.


Miss Jane:  Brad Watson has mad his career by expanding the literary traditions of the South, in work as melancholy, witty, strange, and lovely as any in America. Inspired by the true story of his own great-aunt, he explores the life of Miss Jane Chisolm, born in rural, early-twentieth-century Mississippi with a genital birth defect that would stand in the way of the central “uses” for a woman in that time and place–namely, sex and marriage. From the country doctor who adopts Jane to the hard tactile labor of farm life, from the highly erotic world of nature around her to the boy who loved but was forced to leave her, the world of Miss Jane Chisolm is anything but barren. Free to satisfy only herself, she mesmerizes those around her, exerting an unearthly fascination that lives beyond her still.

The Spellman FilesIn San Francisco, 28-year-old private investigator Isabelle “Izzy” Spellman works for her parents’ detective agency as does her 14-year-old sister Rae (their brother, the perfect and non-nosey one in the family, is a lawyer). The fact that the Spellmans are outlandishly dysfunctional, have trouble with boundaries, and are prejudiced against dentists (including the one Izzy starts dating) just adds to the fun–but then things take a bit of a serious turn when a family member goes missing.

Good luck, and good reading!

Getting MORE out of your Library

You’d be surprised the amount of terrific stuff you can find at the Library.

It’s true.

And I bet you’d be surprised by some of the neat things that you can find on our website, as well!

A few days ago, one of my favorite Circulation Staff Members asked me to help her access newspapers online with her Library card–and together, we discovered the glory of the “eLibrary”, and the magic of “more”.  And now, you can discover it, too!

From our homepage (www.peabodylibary.org), click on the “eLibrary” tab at the top of the page (underneath “information”)

This will open up a menu that gives you access to a whole bunch of features available through that Library that you can access with your Library Card.  Not only is there a link to the Library catalog and the Free For All (yay!), but you’ll also find links to Overdrive (e-books and e-audiobooks), Zinio (digital magazines), and Hoopla (streaming videos).

Even more than that, if you click on “Articles/Databases“, you’ll be taken to our menu of newspapers, magazine, academic journals, and a whole bunch of other databases, including Massachusetts driving tests, citizenship test prep, and homework help.    Though a number of these resources are available only to Peabody residents with Peabody Library cards, there are still plenty of resources here that all our patrons can access, totally free of charge.

But you know what?  It gets even better.

If you click on “More” from the “eLibrary” menu, you’ll be taken to a screen that will give you even more options for your digital delectation.  Here you’ll find Pronunciator, which can help you learn more than 80 different languages at your own pace.  You’ll find handouts for downloading material from Overdrive, and links to our YouTube page…why yes, we do have a YouTube page!

We here at the Library are always trying to keep up-to-date on the latest databases, resources, and technology to make your life easier, your learning more comprehensive, and your leisure-time more fulfilling.  So feel free to have a look through our e-resources, and be sure to click on “More”.  And let us know if you have any questions about how to use any of these resources!

Five Book Friday!

Beloved Patrons, have you see the updates to our Library’s website?  Screen Shot 2016-08-19 at 1.45.32 PM

In addition to providing upcoming events and news, take a look at the text box in the lower left-hand side of the screen….

Screen Shot 2016-08-19 at 1.47.14 PM


It’s the five most-recent posts from this here Free For All, providing you with up-to-the-minute updates on all the joyful nonsense that goes on here!

We’re going to be working on updating our website even further in the coming weeks, so keep your eyes peeled for lots of good things yet to come, but, for now, a huge thanks to our fantastic Web Site Magician, for all her hard work!

And now…how about some new books?!  Here are just a few of the many new tomes that hopped up onto our shelves this week, and are eager to meet you!


3630536Eileen: This is a new-to-us book, which was released in 2015.  However, when Massachusetts’ native Ottessa Moshfegh’s haunting novel has been long-list for the Man Booker Prize, the book was reprinted, and we made sure to get a copy for ourselves.  Set in the 1960’s, this novel follows, Eileen Dunlop, outwardly an unremarkable employee at a boys’ prison outside Boston.  But at heart, Eileen is a disturbed, desperately lonely young woman who spends her days trying to survive her job, and her evenings trying to clean up after her alcoholic father.  But when a bright, beautiful new counsellor comes to the prison, Eileen finds herself pulled into a new, all-consuming friendship–and finds herself willing to do anything to keep that friendship.  Anything.  The Hitchcock-ian twist in this book, and Moshfegh’s ability to create a thoroughly creepy, yet irresistibly compelling atmosphere has had reviewers around the world raving, including The Guardian, who said “The great power of this book, which won the PEN/Hemingway debut fiction award last month, is that Eileen is never simply a literary gargoyle; she is painfully alive and human, and Ottessa Moshfegh writes her with a bravura wildness that allows flights of expressionistic fantasy to alternate with deadpan matter of factness…As an evocation of physical and psychological squalor, Eileen is original, courageous and masterful.”

51wJyTbXPEL._SX336_BO1,204,203,200_I Contain Multitudes: The Microbes Within Us and a Grander View of Life: For all that anti-bacterial hand stuff has become part of our life, and for all that we hear about the dangers of tiny little organisms we can’t see, Ed Yong’s book argues that microbes are an indispensable part of our lives, protecting us from disease, digesting our food, and, literally, keeping life on earth moving by providing the bonds that bring lifeforms together.  In this ‘microbe’s eye view’ of the world, Yong gives us a new way to look at the world around us, and our part in it, in a way that is fascinating, informative, and instantly engaging.  The beauty of this book is how it can take something as apparently straight-forward as the microbe and make it sound wondrous.  Booklist agrees, cautioning, “Bottom line: don’t hate or fear the microbial world within you. Appreciate its wonders. After all, they are more than half of you.”

3779001I Will Send RainWe’ve all seen photos of the Dust Bowl–of desperate-looking women and their barefoot children; we’ve heard the stories of the malnutrition and relentless wind-storms that ruined crops and made the depths of the Great Depression seem all the more hopeless.  Rae Meadows’ novel takes us inside those stories, into the world of Annie Bell, whose Oklahoma farm has been ravaged by those storms, and whose family is slowing coming apart at the seams.  With her son suffering from dust pneumonia, her daughter looking for anyway out of their current existence, and her husband plagued with dreams of rain, Annie begins to realize that she can no longer live for others; in order to survive, she has to make her own choices.  This story is at once deeply personal and wonderfully representative of a time that continues to haunt our collective imagination.  Publisher’s Weekly gave this tale a starred review, saying “Meadows’s strength lies in letting her story be guided by the shadow and light of her well-rendered characters…A vibrant, absorbing novel that stays with the reader.”

3764084 (1)The Girl with the Lower Back Tattoo: As Emmy Award-winning comic, television and film star Amy Schumer’s star continues to rise, she proves, once again, that she isn’t about to back down, or allow public notoriety to make her into anything but her authentic self.  In this memoir, Schumer mines her own past for stories about how she became the person she is today, from the hilarious to the heartbreaking, from the deeply…extremely…sometimes uncomfortably personal to the universal.  Schumer’s sense of humor shines through this book, but she also shows how big-hearted, and extraordinarily brave she is with this candid and very frank book that will introduce you–or re-acquaint you–with one remarkable woman.  The Washington Post wrote, “‘Schumer is a talented storyteller. She’s known for standing in a spotlight and sharing every corner of her soul with thousands of strangers. So it’s no surprise that her book is packed with hilarious, honest and often vulnerably raw details of her life… Readers will laugh and cry, and may put the book down from moments of honesty that result in uncomfortable realistic details from her life.”

3743649Perfume River: Another historical novel, this one partially set during the  the Vietnam War, this newest release from Robert Olen Butler explores both the personal lives of one family and the turmoil of a generation at war.  Professor Robert Quinlan and his wife, Darla. now in their seventies, met while working in anti-war protests, and married with the hope of changing the world for good, and for ever.  Now, the fissures in their own relationships are becoming more and more apparent, especially as Robert’s relationship with the rest of his family–including his brother and father, a veteran of the Second World War–crumbles around him.  When a homeless man comes into Robert’s life, he assumes at first that he is just another Vietnam veteran looking for assistance, but the longer he remains, the more he realizes that this man’s impact on his family will be greater than Robert could ever imagine.  A deeply thoughtful, quietly tragic, and deeply moving work, critics are hailing this as another of Butler’s masterpieces, with Booklist declaring it “A deeply meditative reflection on aging and love, as seen through the prism of one family quietly torn asunder by the lingering effects of the Vietnam War. Butler…shows again that he is a master of tone, mood, and character, whatever genre he chooses to explore. This is thoughtful, introspective fiction of the highest caliber, but it carries a definite edge, thanks to an insistent backbeat that generates suspense with the subtlest of brushstrokes.”