Pics Or It Didn’t Happen

Helping a patron search for images of dress styles from the turn of the century for their school report? Want to see what an electric car looked like in the 1970s? Or maybe you need photographic evidence of a building that you swear used to be somewhere so you can win a bet with your friends?

Look no further than the Library of Congress (LOC) Prints & Photograph collection!

Library of Congress, Prints and Photographs

This collection has records for over 1 million photographs, prints and drawings dating back over 1,000 years. The majority of the collection is primarily from the 19th & 20th centuries and covers a large span of topics, including: architecture, portraits, military, sports and daily life.

Quickly narrow down your search by subject, format, collection, date, contributor, etc., with the easily-accessible filters in the left-hand column. Then download high-quality versions of the images you find – from JPEG to PNG to TIFF.

And when you find one image you like…

…scroll down for additional suggestions for images related to that record.

One downside of this valuable site that must be mentioned is how often this message appears:

“Full online access to this resource is only available at the Library of Congress.” Records with this message are such a tease, though sometimes the metadata included in the record can be very helpful. Other times, these listings can link you to additional useful images or collections that are available to view full-scale images online.

Fortunately, there is a way to avoid this dreaded message altogether: use the “Access Condition” filter on the left to select “Available Online.” This narrows the results to show only records that have viewable images. Huzzah!

While the LOC Prints & Photographs collection is helpful to search, it is equally as fun to browse.

There are curated collections available. Some are cumbersome to navigate (e.g. the Lewis Carroll Scrapbooks and Prairie Settlement collections) but others are very easy to access (e.g. African American Photographs Assembled for 1900 Paris Exposition & Aaron Copeland Collection). In the image below, you can see that certain collections have links below the descriptions that say “Collection Items.” Those are the collections that are easier to navigate.

I personally enjoyed searching for historical images of the Pittsburgh region. My favorite record find: “Quack doctor, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania”

I am dying to know: who wrote the caption card from which this item was named? When? What led to this description?

Hopefully your research leads to more answers than questions! Happy searching!

Richelle @ Sewickley Public Library

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Real Estate Portal Helpful for More Than You Think

Allegheny County’s Real Estate Portal is an invaluable resource for researching property data within the county. The site offers detailed information on property ownership, building specs, tax info, boundary maps and more. It is especially useful for those researching house/building histories, buying/selling a home, or searching for an address or property owner.

Users can search for property data by address or lot parcel number. In the library world, this search function is really handy when a patron forgets to write down or incorrectly identifies their municipality. Simply search the house number & street name to narrow down municipalities.

Once you find the property you are looking for, you can dive into the data. View general information about the property, including sale data, school district, assessed value from the county, lot square footage, and the deed book & page number which identifies where to locate the deed in the county registrar’s office.

Dig a little deeper when you look under the building information tab. Find what year the structure was built, approximate square footage of the living space, room counts, what type of heating & cooling the building has, etc. This is all helpful information to know, especially when buying/selling a home.

Another interesting feature of the site is that there are images of the structure available. Many images are decades old and can be used to see how homes have changed over the years.

You can also research the previous owners of a home with under the owner history tab. It often lists the current owner & the last two owners of the property. This is a great feature when researching the history of a building. Pair it with a search of the newspaper archive and you can find a treasure trove of information!

Lastly, the map feature is really helpful for when you want to look up general property lines, adjacent building information or get an idea of where county township/borough borders are. The map is interactive so you can move it around and zoom in/out to zone in on the information you need.

Happy house searching!

-Richelle, Sewickley Public Library

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Health & Fitness from Home

Looking for ways to incorporate a fitness routine into your lifestyle? Did you know that Hoopla offers a variety of health & fitness workout videos to keep you moving?  All titles are available immediately with no wait! Access is easy with your library card.

Check out the fitness collection





Full Body Workout


Jillian Michaels Workouts


Pilates & Toning


Qi Gong & Tai Chi


Virtual Walks


Prenatal Fitness


Fitness For Kids


And of course, if none of these other routines work for you, you can always keep it classic…

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PowerSearch & The Economist

One of the state resources is PowerSearch, which enables one-stop searching of many Gale databases.  It shows results from magazines, news sources, academic journals, and more.

L PowerSearch

While searching for slightly varied terms can yield wildly different results, it is nice to be able to start in one place.  Don’t hesitate to tweak your search terms repeatedly.

One publication that is indexed is The Economist.  While it’s certainly not a graphic-friendly browsing experience, it is one way to read articles, now that RB Digital is going away as a County resource.  Currently, neither Flipster or OverDrive offer The Economist.


Articles from The Economist can also be found in Gale’s General OneFile and Infotrac Newsstand.

L General OneFile     L InfoTrac Newsstand

In any of these Gale databases, on the main screen, under the search box is a button for Publication Search.  (Alternately, you can choose the Advanced Search icon, then choose the Publication Search tab).  Within Publication Search, you can click the link to show a list of All publications in that database or just type your targeted name in the search box.  With just a few more clicks, you will be at a list of issues, then a list of articles.


Christy, Carnegie Library of McKeesport

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