What Better Time to Find A Grave ??

‘Tis the season to introduce your patrons to FindAGrave.com! (Oooh, so spooky!) It’s like the wikipedia of cemeteries, and a truly awesome resource for genealogy research! FindAGrave.com is essentially a communal catalog of grave sites from across the world – where users document the names, dates, locations, photographs, etc. of burial plots, which they upload and share.  It’s amazing how many cemeteries and burial locations have been documented by avid genealogists/researches/cemetery enthusiasts in the area – 168 in Allegheny County alone!

Find A Grave - Allegheny County

It’s equally surprising how many small and unmarked cemeteries are documented. I discovered this small, family burial ground in my hometown of Coraopolis, PA (in Allegheny County), which has only 6 plots.  Driving past, you’d never know it was there!


Find A Grave_Ferree Cemetery

This is a great resource to share with your library patrons that are interested in genealogy!

Richelle Klug,
Sewickley Public Library

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“Dude, Where’s My Car (Repair)?”

Auto Repair Reference Center was recently removed from POWER Library, much to the disappointment of many library staff and patrons. There are tons of sites out there that will gladly sell you the manual you need, but there’s really no one great free resource for this kind of information. While the Digital Resources Committee looks into alternative access options, I decided to poke around the magical internet and see what, if any, temporary relief was available.

"What do you mean it's not in POWER Library anymore???"
“What do you mean it’s not in POWER Library anymore???”

Chevrolet, Chrysler, and Ford owners have it best, as these manufacturers provide owners’ manuals for free as .PDF files on their respective websites.

Ford’s website, with its clean layout and clear organization, is easiest to search. It’s also got the widest range of manuals, covering cars from 1996-2016.

Chrysler’s free manuals extend back to 2004 only, but is the easiest to use of the three: pick your year and vehicle, then download the file; there’s also a free child safety manual available, with detailed instructions for installing car seats.

Chevrolet’s manual collection is the least extensive, with the oldest manuals available from 2008. However, certain makes and models come with not only the manual, but helpful repair videos as well. As a bonus, pictures of each vehicle appear above each download link, making this useful for people who are more visually oriented and/or don’t know what kind of car they have, but would recognize it on sight.

The next best bet, if you don’t own the cars named above, is, oddly enough, Pep Boys’ Do It Yourself Guides, which reproduces sections from the Haynes manuals (a trusted name in DIY auto, for those of you who walk, bike, or take the bus like me). These guides are not make or model specific, and are designed to provide “first aid” for any failures, funny noises, or other freakouts your car might be having. The writing style and level of detail assume you’re comfortable enough fiddling around under the hood, but are written clearly and simply so that even beginners will find them easy to follow. Many of these guides gently suggest visiting Pep Boys if you still can’t figure out what’s wrong, but that’s a small price to pay for credible information.

Though these aren’t long-term solutions, they at least give you something to offer your patrons rather than sending them away completely empty-handed. Have your users been asking about Auto Repair Reference Center? What kinds of car repair questions do you tend to get at your library? Can you recommend any other online resources I might have missed?

–Leigh Anne (CLP Main)

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Health Information Made Plain

Providing medical information is always a challenge. Adding to the difficulty is the mismatch between medical terminology and the average reading skills of many Americans.

According to a study conducted last year by the U. S. Department of Education and the National Institute of Literacy, 32 million adults in the U.S. can’t read. And 21 percent of adults in the U.S. read below a 5th grade level.

The National Library of Medicine has been working hard to provide medical information that uses plain language to describe medical issues. Plain language substitutes everyday words for medical jargon, uses short sentences, and highlights key points.

medlineplusTo access the easy-to-read medical literature that the National Library of Medicine has developed, visit MedlinePlus (available on the Find Articles and CLP database pages) and click on the “easy-to-read” tab in the bottom right-hand corner. (“Easy-to-read” articles will also appear whenever you are reading about a topic that has also been written about in plain language.)

MedlinePlus is a great resource. It contains drug information, interactive tutorials, and late-breaking stories about medical issues. The spelling, definition, and pronunciation of medical terms are always a click away.

It has links to health information in 44 languages. It has medical information in plain language. And it’s free.

Mary Lee (Northland)

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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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