(e)Book Babies

This week we welcome guest blogger Megan F. from CLP-Squirrel Hill:

This wonderful hat was embroidered by one of my talented former pages, Laura.

Yesterday was the first time I sat at an actual computer in nearly six weeks.  On February 6th my adorable son was born.  When we got home from the hospital, the downstairs of our house, specifically the living room couch, became my base of operations.  I fed the baby on the couch, ate meals and snacks on the couch, slept on the couch and pretty much lived on the couch for several weeks.  This was necessary because it turns out that having a baby makes your body feel like it’s been run over by several big rig trucks – so the least amount of moving around, the better.

What do you do while hanging out on a couch?  Well, I’ve become very thankful for my smart phone (seriously, I might owe the guy who sold me the phone a gift basket).  My phone has been my outlet to the rest of the world – thus the constant liking of every picture and post on Facebook. (Sorry, friends, I promise to stop stalking you really soon, just as soon as my life gets marginally interesting again.)

So, for me, as a sleep deprived mom of a newborn that mostly loves to sleep cradled in my arms, OverDrive was a lifesaver.  I was having a hard time holding a sleeping baby – who I was trying not to wake up – and also reading a regular book.  E-books worked much better.  And, being able to check out a library e-book from my phone at 3 a.m., that luxury is truly priceless.

Happily, my son and I are getting out more and using a real computer so we have access to even more fun online resources.  Here are a few other online resources for surviving life as a new mom (or dad)*:

  • Freegal Music has old school Sesame Street songs that can be downloaded for free.  I’m slowly creating a “kids songs that don’t drive mommy crazy” playlist.
  • BookFlix provides picture books with slightly animated illustrations that you can watch like a movie with your child (sort of like how Reading Rainbow used to present the books).**
  • The new eKids page pulls together all of the countywide online resources for kids and is a great place to start looking for content to share with kids as they get older.

Do you have any online resources that you love to recommend to new moms or dads or for when you’re stuck in the house?  I’d love to hear about them!

~Megan F. (Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh – Squirrel Hill)

*Yes, the most important thing to survive being a new mom is sleeping when the baby sleeps – but that only works if the baby lets you put him down at 3 a.m. – otherwise, your best bet is having something good to read or having a dance party with your fussy little one.

**Okay, so I’m cheating a bit with BookFlix, since really it’s more of a 3-6 year old resource.  But I love this resource – which also pairs nonfiction titles with the stories.  I used to present an Online Playground workshop for preschool teachers and BookFlix was always one of the favorite resources, so I really wanted to include it.  If you haven’t checked it out yet, you should.

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Using Google News Archive to Search Local Papers

Google announced a couple years ago that it will no longer add to their News Archive. But the content that is still there may prove useful to doing local history research.

A couple of drawbacks of Google News Archive: currently they have disabled the ability to do an advanced search and limit to a specific publication and date range.  This problem is, hopefully, just a temporary one.  According to this: http://productforums.google.com/forum/#!category-topic/news/Gl23RwnTIlg they are working on updating the search functionality. Secondly, the archive is not complete.  The Pittsburgh Press has an impressive 28,963 issues.  But you will find that certain days are missing.

In my research example I was going to do a search for something about Andrew Carnegie, but decided that example is overused.  So instead, in anticipation of baseball season, I decided I wanted to find the Pittsburgh Press article from the day the Pirates won the World Series in 1925.  This example wouldn’t work if we were searching for the franchise’s first World Series victory because all of October 1909 is missing.

You can access the Pittsburgh Press at: http://news.google.com/newspapers?nid=djft3U1LymYC or through the links on: http://articles.einetwork.net/.


The browse mode (which is currently the only easy way to find things) give you easily scrollable thumbnails and date organization.  It starts out on the decade level and you can drill down from there into year, month, day.

If you only know the approximate day, the thumbnail view is high enough definition to allow you to read the headlines on the front page of every issue.  In this example, I just knew that the article would be sometime in October.  So I went to the October issues and browsed to find headlines about the Pirate and

the World Series.  Surprisingly, it was easy to find an article on the day before the game but not as easy to locate the article the day after they won.


On October 16th 1925 this was the headline on the front page of the Press.  They got bumped from the top spot on the page to a lower tier article!




Yinzers would be outraged if this happened in 2014.  Just compare the headline size to the one in the Trib from last fall.



Once I found the article I wanted it was easy to zoom into the text and move around the page to read the paper.  Once you find what you want Google allows you to create direct links to the articles.  The only difficult thing is exporting an image or article.  The easiest way I have found to do this is to use the “print screen” function and copy the image into Paint or Word.  From there you can crop to just the information you would like to save or print.

Hopefully the search functionality will be turned back on soon, this will allow users to easily search the OCR output of a specific publication in a defined date range.

Dustin Shilling, Sewickley Public Library

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Whoop it up for Hoopla!


Hoopla will go live on April 1, 2014.

Hoopla offers free video (movies and TV) and music content to patrons throughout Allegheny County.  Anyone with a valid library card will be able to borrow up to eight items per month.  (During the training period the site will indicate that each cardholder can access up to two items per month.  This will be adjusted prior to going live.) Video content can be borrowed for three days. Music content can be borrowed for seven days.   All titles are always available – no holds, no waiting!

Patrons can stream video and music content through all major browsers and/or the Hoopla app for iOS (Apple) or Android devices.   Within the apps patrons also have the option to download content to enjoy when they don’t have Internet connectivity.

Training & Staying Informed

Hoopla offers several options for learning about and familiarizing yourself with the service.

Hoopla Training Webinars

These two training videos are specifically for library staff.

Hoopla Overview – This 25 minute video provides a basic introduction to the service.


  • The administrative functions discussed in these videos are not available to individual libraries.  Oversight of administrative functions will be handled by CLP and the ACLA Downloadables Committee.
  • We will not be offering audiobooks through Hoopla at this time.  When Hoopla goes live, please refer patrons to OverDrive or OneClick for audiobook content.

Hoopla Patron Experience – This 43 minute video walks you through the entire Hoopla experience, including how to register, borrow, add to favorites, and more.

Hoopla Live Training for Library Staff

This training occurs twice a month.  This month’s sessions are:

  • Wed., March 12, 2014 from 11am – 12pm
  • Thurs., March 27, 2014 from 3:30pm – 4:30pm

You can register here.

Hoopla Training/Video Help for Patrons: youtube.com/hoopladigital

Each of these short videos provides an overview of a different feature or function within Hoopla.

Hoopla also offers a bi-weekly newsletter. This newsletter informs staff about the latest content, upgrades and enhancements to the system, and other useful updates.  I encourage all staff to sign up for the newsletter. 

Get Started!

All staff are encouraged to sign up and start exploring Hoopla: www.hoopladigital.com. (Once we go live this will be linked from the eResources Landing Page, the eCLP site, and many of your libraries’ web pages.)  You will be able to walk through the registration process and start borrowing movies, TV shows, and music.  Please take advantage of the “Demo” content (marked with an orange banner) found at the bottom of the page.  This content is free to access and will not count against our pay-per-use budget.

PLEASE NOTE: You are encouraged to create your Hoopla account prior to the upcoming ILS outage (potentially from March 21 after 6 pm through March 24).  Existing accounts will be able to access content, but it will not be possible to create new accounts during the outage.

Questions?  Comments?   If you think the answer would be helpful to others, feel free to leave your question in the comments section below.  Otherwise, email Sarah at beasleys @ carnegielibrary.org.

— Debi (ACLA/Carnegie Library of McKeesport) & Sarah (CLP)

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eContent for Kids

econtent for kidsWe now have a separate OverDrive page for children’s content.  All children’s titles can still be found from our primary site, but patrons who wish to limit their search to materials for children can visit the eContent for Kids page.

The eContent for Kids page offers a visually engaging, simplified site with three basic categories across the top: Subjects, Collections, and Levels.  Each of these categories offers multiple options for focusing the patron’s search or browsing experience.

You will soon notice the image above on our main OverDrive page.  It will take people to the eContent for Kids page.  You are also encouraged to link to it directly from your library’s site.  Take a few minutes to explore!

Questions? Leave them in the comments section below.

Charmaine (CLP)

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