Washington State History Online

It’s true that Sno-Isle Libraries owns a nice collection of books on both local and state history. However, it is often the case that these books cannot leave the library, or do not cover certain events that may have occurred more recently. It’s in cases like this where HistoryLink.org can save the day!

Whether a student is seeking information for a school project, or a life-long learner is curious to learn about their community’s history, HistoryLink can help! Users are offered an easy-to-use search interface, which also allows one to filter by location, time that an event occurred, and various topic categories. Also included is a timeline feature (found in the Explore tab), which provides an excellent visual representation of our state’s history.

Users and Library staff alike can rest assured that the information found on HistoryLink is vetted, comprehensive, and reliable. This online encyclopedia is curated by real historians, who not only cite their sources, but also incorporate primary source materials into their articles. This is especially relevant for histories of the Native Peoples of Washington State. To learn more about HistoryLink, see their About section.

Happy Searching!

Rickey Barnett–Research Team

24/7 Writing Lab

“Can you just take a look at this and tell me if it’s okay?” What do you do when a customer wants you to proofread a piece of writing? Proofreading and editing is outside of our purview, but many customers ask us to do this type of work for them. Luckily, we have a resource for this very thing in Online Learning.

What is the Brainfuse 24/7 Writing Lab?

The Adult Learning Center offers two types of writing assistance for business and personal needs: live assistance from expert writing tutors and the 24/7 Writing Lab. The 24/7 Writing Lab is ideal when an extended analysis is required and the writing is more than 1-2 pages. Brainfuse 24/7 Writing Lab is designed to help users produce a better written work through targeted, structured feedback. Users submit documents through a secure file sharing portal and check for document return status on the personalized and secure Message Center.

When should I use the live writing assistance?

Use live, writing assistance when there is a need for immediate help. Users may also want to connect with writing tutors to work through the initial stages of the writing process, discuss writing strategies, or to brainstorm themes and topics.
(Adapted from Brainfuse FAQs)

2(xy + 9) – 4x = There’s A Resource For That

Online college classes, exams and certifications are just a few of the ways adult learners can benefit from using the internet. But without a classroom or an instructor they can see on a regular basis (or at all) – who helps these students when they need it?

Sno-Isle supports lifelong learners through its subscription to Brainfuse: Adult Learning Center. Found on the Online Learning page https://www.sno-isle.org/onlinelearning, the Adult Learning Center offers tutoring, a writing lab, academic coaching and more. And like its partner Brainfuse HelpNow for kids, it offers the assistance live online.

I don’t know who feels better when I assure my customers that I’m not the one who will help them with their Algebra – me or them. Instead, I refer them to the vetted tutors of the Adult Learning Center – who are waiting to do what I cannot.

Students + Sno-Isle Libraries = academic success.

There’s a form for that!

At Sno-Isle Libraries, we strive to be help customers in any way we can. However, there are some questions that we simply cannot fully address. A great example being in-depth legal questions.

However, in the case of straightforward legal questions, we have some amazing library resources at our disposal! We of course have our Legal Information Reference Center, which provides access to a collection of legal reference items. But in this post, I want to really point out the wealth of free information available in the Legal Forms database.

I am often surprised when I hear that customers have spent money in order to download their needed legal form from the Internet. Sometimes, at an alarming price, for questionable quality. Luckily, we can circumvent this issue with our Legal Forms database!

The forms in this database are neatly organized by category, with the most popular appearing in blue at the left side of the page. Better still, these forms are specific for Washington State, and where applicable, provide forms specific to certain courts. By clicking on a particular topic, you will see a list of forms, further separated by a number of factors. Just remember, we can only help a customer find a particular form. It is never a good idea to try interpret how the form should be used, or to fill the form out for the customer. In these instances, the best course of action is to refer the customer to an expert!

Bonus: The Legal Forms database also has an attorney directory, legal terms dictionary, and a treasure trove of other helpful resources!

Happy searching! -Rickey Barnett, Research Team

GVRL Crush

There is a lot to love about the Gale Virtual Reference Library. If you help students of any age, make sure this resource is one of your demos when you highlight the Online Library.

There was, of course, a time when students could get the books they needed only when the library building was open. Not so anymore. This collection of full-text online reference books is a near 5,000 title home library for anyone with a library card and internet access.

Students can read, listen to, search, download, send, and cite every book in the collection, 24 hours a day. To the delight of parents and teachers and (possibly) to the disappointment of some students, GVRL means there is no longer an excuse for not being able to finish homework. The books come to you. What’s not to love?

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Macmillan eBook Embargo: Tips for LibChat & LibAnswers

With Macmillan’s impending eBook embargo on the horizon, it’s likely that we will receive questions and concerns from customers on this issue. In preparation, we now have a Staff and Public FAQ where staff and customers alike can quickly and easily find information on this topic.

For LibAnswers and LibChat specifically, you may have noticed a new announcement under the Administrative Announcement area of the Dashboard. Clicking this link will direct you to the FAQ entry, where you can also find the Macmillan contact email, where customers can submit their direct feedback to Macmillan, as well as view ALA’s petition.

For quickly responding to customers on this topic in LibAnswers, be sure to use the new Macro (found where you normally find you library’s signature), which will insert a preformatted message. Just be sure to modify it accordingly for a complete and coherent response to the customer.

Rickey Barnett–Research Team

Finding Free Topographic Maps Online

Recently, I have noticed an uptick in questions from customers concerning where they can locate topographic maps showing specific areas of Snohomish County. More often than not, their question includes something along the lines of, “Does my local library have topographic maps that I can check out or view?”

Topographic maps are a very specialized resource, which unfortunately, aside from a few reference atlas items, SIL does not collect these sorts of materials. Fortunately for us though–and our customers–the United States Geological Survey has created an amazing tool that allows one to search, view, and print/download a wide collection of topographic maps–all at no cost! This tool is called TopoView.

TopoView is completely free and has the look and feel of Google Earth, but has many more features in play. To get started, navigate to the TopoView homepage here. Then, simply click Get Maps along the top menu. You can enter a zip code, city, or specific address, and voila! One of the really cool features with this tool is the option to view not just current maps, but also a treasure trove of historical maps as well. (I found maps of Edmonds dating back to the 1890’s).

To learn more about this amazing resource, see my example and instructions below for how you would do this. Happy searching!!!
Rickey Barnett, Librarian
Research Team

TopoView Tutorial:

1. Enter the location you are interested in finding in the box at the top right of the web page, where it says “Search by Location”, and hit enter, or click the magnifying glass, to start the search.

https://libapps.s3.amazonaws.com/accounts/88498/images/searchbylocation.PNG

I found the red box encompassing the area you are searching to be an obstruction, but you can turn this off by clicking the cogs and gears icon just above the search box, and selecting “off” next to the option that reads “Turn map boundaries off”.

Once you have found a location, you can see available topographic maps at the right hand side, beneath the search tools. You can reorder them based on name or date, but they will default by dates automatically (from oldest to most recent). From this list, simply select the map you want, and then a small panel should open above the name.

Click show to overlay TopoView with the map you have selected. Also, by clicking the thumbnail image of the map at the right, it will open a larger preview of the map in another window. Notice the variety of downloadable file formats as well!

Finally, since the maps do have boundaries, you may have to select different points on the map (just click somewhere on the map to see the marker) to see a given place in its entirety. When you move the marker, more maps will appear at the right hand side. If you want to quickly view the main map as a topographical or satellite version, use the three circles at the top left to toggle between views. See the image below for what these look like.

Still have questions? Check out the help page from TopoView.