Library Resources You Might Not Know About: Part 2

We recently highlighted some services & resources offered by Cheshire Library that may have been new to you. From a book-matching service to streaming video and online courses, the library has an abundance of free resources. Today we’ll highlight a few more you may not be aware of, that you don’t even need to have a library card to use.

Cheshire Library is constantly reviewing and adjusting our online services to bring  patrons what they need. The library is still here for you, even though how you use it these days might look a little different.

A Page Full of Freebies

When the shutdown happened in March 2020, our intrepid librarians started assembling a list of useful free resources that people could access from home. This expanded from Local (links to the CT Covid Response Page, 211 Directory, Cheshire School Meal Distribution)  and  National  (links to the CDC, NIH, WHO) Health Information to other resources that might help take the sting out of being isolated. Sites to access free online activities like virtual museum tours, webcams of animals and nature, interactive learning, and even armchair travel!

Community Service in a Virtual World

Many high school student are required to complete a set number of community service hours as part of their curriculum, but COVID-19 has made it difficult to volunteer in-person. We’ve designed a program (info on our Teen Page and monthly Event Calendars) where teens can earn community service hours by submitting a photo, video,  or other content for us to add to CPL’s social media pages. Ideas for submissions include book reviews, artwork, poetry, short stories, personal essays, photos or video of food you’ve cooked or baked, or any other creative idea you have for content. (Not all submissions will be used on our social media, and submissions including photos of people are not allowed.) Each submission will be awarded 2 community service hours.

Get WOWed by Our Newest Books and Dvds

If you’re not able to get into the library as often to check out what’s new, we’ve got a resource you’re going to love. We’ve teamed up with Wowbrary to deliver a list of the latest additions to our catalog straight to your inbox. The New Item Newsletter lets you know everything that’s new, digital items as well as physical items. In fact, you’ll learn about the physical books and dvds the minute we order them, before they even hit the shelf, and can place holds on them right away (you will need a library card for this part)!

No Printer? No Problem!

Many people have used our public printers in the past to print up important documents. Now you can do so without ever stepping foot inside the building. Our Mobile Printing Portal (accessed through the “Visit” tab on our website) allows you to send print jobs to us right from your computer or mobile device. We’ll let you know when your printouts are ready, and you can pick them up at the Grab ‘n Go station by the parking lot entrance.

Something Fun for Our Youngest Patrons

Our Baby Bop music & movement classes for infants 0-12 months and their caregivers has been on hiatus during the pandemic, but we’ve created a dozen free printable guides (find them on our Kids Page) of fun lap-sit songs, rhymes, and activities of music and movement to help develop motor and language skills. But mostly it’s just plain fun – playing is learning! We will add new guides periodically, so check back often!

Entertainment and Information in the Video Age

Finally, we encourage you to subscribe to our YouTube Channel. We’ve really stepped up our video content creation during this pandemic, and the results are on YouTube. From DIY tutorials, to lit tips,  to silly skits, to full length programs, we’ve got something for everyone to enjoy and learn from. You can even sit in on a Library Board meeting, if that’s your jam! Subscribe to be notified when we post something new.

Library Services You Might Not Know About – Part 1

Life sure has changed from this time a year ago, hasn’t it? It’s still hard to wrap my head around how differently we are living our lives since the Covid-19 pandemic made its presence known. Schools and businesses have had to restructure just about everything they do. Libraries, too, have had to change the way they work, depending so much more on the Internet to connect with their patrons.
Cheshire Library is constantly reviewing and adjusting our online services to bring  patrons what they need. You’re probably familiar with our online programs by this time (had most of us even heard of Zoom before the pandemic?), and you may have become a pro at downloading library ebooks,  but there are so many other services and resources you can avail yourself of any time, right from our website. The library is still here for you, even though how you use it these days might look a little different.

Getting books to readers: Matchbook and Grab ‘n Go services.

Remember the days when you could come into the library and leisurely browse the shelves, find a comfy place to sit and look through books or magazines before checking out your selections?  While the library is now open limited hours to the public, it’s not a place to kick back and hang out these days, due to social distancing and safety precautions we’ve put into place. To help you find your next good read, we began offering a service called Matchbook.  It’s a service we had tried a few years ago with limited success, but it has been booming since we brought it back in July of 2020. Fill out a quick form on our website letting us know your reading preferences, and a library staff member will hand-select several titles we think you will like, and put them aside for you, “matching” you up with some books! One Matchbook user told us it was like her birthday or Christmas every time a new selection of books was ready for her, and she discovered several new authors she loved! Books can be picked up inside the library at the Checkout Desk when they’re ready, or you can arrange a contactless pickup with our Grab ‘n Go program.

Stream away with Acorn TV and The Great Courses.

One of the first things we did when the library was shut down in the spring was figure out how to increase out digital offerings on a budget. We crunched some numbers and came up with two streaming services (available through the RBdigital app) that have proved to be  user favorites. Acorn TV is a very popular streaming video platform that many people pay for, but CPL cardholders have free access to. Acorn TV brings world-class mysteries, dramas, and comedies from Britain and beyond to your Internet-ready TV or mobile device. The Great Courses is another for-pay service that CPL cardholders can use for free.  The Great Courses is the leading global media brand for lifelong learning and personal enrichment, with hundreds of courses spanning thousands of in-depth video lectures on subjects like Science, Health & Wellness, History, and even Travel. Learn at your own pace, in your own time!

Dig up your ancestors.

Well, not literally. We’re talking genealogically, here. Ancestry® Library helps you research and understand your family tree with access to billions of names in thousands of genealogical databases including Census and Vital Records, birth, marriage and death notices, the Social Security Death Index, Passenger lists and naturalizations, Military and Holocaust Records, and more. Before the pandemic, Ancestry® Library was available for use inside the library only, but the company has generously extended our subscription to home users during this time of limited library use. All you need is your CPL card and a computer, and you’re ready to climb your family tree!

Keep up with the latest newspapers and magazines, digitally.

We’ve has to suspend our subscriptions to local newspapers during this time, but you’ll be happy to know that you can still access the news online though Newsbank, a news database that provides archives of media publications, and includes access to the Cheshire Herald, Meridan Record-Journal, and New Haven Register. While we still have many magazines available for checkout at the library, there are many more (over 3000 titles and up to three years of back issues!) that are available digitally through the Libby app. The great thing about digital magazines is there’s no waiting list, and back issues are available on most titles!

 

 

 

Taxes!

As if Covid hadn’t made  things complicated enough, now we’ve come to Tax Time! Lots of people are likely to be filing online this year, but some of us still need to put pencil to paper. Libraries have traditionally been places you can get tax forms and instruction booklets, but this year … not so much. Actually, the amount of CT State forms and booklets libraries receive started dwindling even before Covid times, but this year there will be no hard copies of CT State Tax materials at the library, and a very limited amount of Federal Income Tax printed materials.

But fear not! Everything you need is out there in the Cloud, ready for you to download and print. For CT State Tax forms and instructions, visit https://portal.ct.gov/DRS/DRS-Forms/Current-Year-Forms/Individual-Income-Tax-Forms. Federal Income Tax forms and instructions can be found at https://www.irs.gov/forms-instructions.

No printer? No problem. You can make an appointment to come in and use one of our computers to print up your documents (.10/page for black and white copies). Adult public computer use appointments for specified time slots may be reserved by phone (203-272-2245), up to one day in advance, and patrons may book one session per day.

You can also use our Mobile Print Portal to send print jobs from home to the library’s printer. More information on mobile printing can be found on our Printing & Technology page. You can arrange to pick up your printed pages through our Grab ‘n Go contactless pickup service.

The CT Department of Revenue Services also offers a number of ways to help you file your state taxes. Upon request, patrons are welcome to contact DRS at the following phone numbers below Mon-Fri from 8:30-4:30 to request tax forms, booklets, and instructions that DRS maintains in-house, and can mail directly to the patron’s home address.

  • 860-297-5962 (from anywhere)
  • 800-382-9463 (Connecticut calls outside the Greater Hartford calling area only)
  • 860-297-4911(TTY, TDD, and Text Telephone users only)

The DRS website has the answer to many state tax questions,including a Frequently Asked Questions page. Taxpayers are also encouraged to call or email DRS with questions specific to their situation. DRS now also offers remote assistance, where taxpayers can schedule an appointment and receive real-time DRS tax assistance from the comfort of their own homes, from a trained DRS professional during normal business hours, via the online Microsoft Teams platform. DRS tax examiners are available to schedule appointments with patrons and library staff (to insure technology for the patron is available), at a time that is mutually convenient.

 

 

CPL Staff’s Favorite Reads of 2020

Ask a librarian for some good books, be prepared for a long list! I recently asked our staff members to share some their favorite reads in 2020, and the answers that came back were many and varied. We really do read a lot! Not all the books on this list were published in 2020, (some were older books we just got around to reading in 2020!), but all received a solid thumbs up from a member of our staff:

Children’s Books

Picture Books

Chapter Books

YA Fiction

Adult Fiction

Adult Non-Fiction

 

( * – this book was recommended by more than one staff member)

 

Homeschooling and Remote Learning Resources at the Library

Hey, parents and teachers at home- we see you. You’re working hard to educate remotely, and most likely dealing with your own kids at the same time. We’re committed to helping you, whether you’re a caregiver, educator, or both. We have some great resources for distance learning and homeschooling, and we have lots of information that can make your life a little easier right now.

We’ve scheduled timely and informative virtual programs about homeschooling coming up in January and February:

So You’re Thinking about Homeschooling?

Monday, January 11, 2021, 6:30 – 7:30pm

Join Linda Hincks, East Hampton homeschool mom and owner of Wren Homeschool Consulting, to learn the basics of homeschooling and the laws in Connecticut. She will provide information to help you decide if it is right for your family.

Tips and Tricks for Remote Learners from a Homeschool Veteran

Monday, February 1, 2021, 6:30 – 7:30pm

Schooling at home and homeschooling are different, but there’s also a lot of overlap. Get some tips and tricks for remote learning from 20 year homeschool veteran, Linda Hincks. We’ll talk about how to relieve stress for kids and adults alike and revive energy for learning. Bring your questions and concerns.

Homeschooling: What’s Next?

Wednesday, February 17, 2021, 6:30 – 7:30pm

You’ve decided to homeschool. What’s next? Join Linda Hincks of Wren Homeschool Consulting to find out not only what to do, but how!

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We also offer virtual Toddler and Preschool Storytimes featuring interactive songs, stories, and other fun learning activities.

What about books? Or access to e-books? We’ve got a variety of materials for at-home reading and studying needs for all ages!

 

 

Homeschooling Books. If you’re unsure where to begin, these books are a good starting point! Get tips and resources from people in the know.

Lit Kits are a great way to take storytime and learning home with you!  Each kit contains 3-4 books on a theme, toys or manipulatives, and a caregiver guide with suggested songs and activities. Our Lit Kits are designed for children 3-5 years old, but they can be adapted or modified for use with almost any age group.

Audiobooks (both digital and on CD) offer many benefits for children. As a child hears an audio book, they enter a journey where reading seems friendlier and more approachable. A young reader listening to an audio book is more apt to establish a pattern of concentrating on the sounds of words without being interrupted by personal reading obstacles.

Playaway is a pre-loaded audiobook that gives kids the portability and freedom to listen to audiobooks anytime, anywhere. It promotes literacy, bridges the digital divide, and makes technology accessible to everyone, with high-quality audio productions of titles from the industry’s best publishers.

VOX™ Books combine outstanding picture books and non-fiction with audio recordings that capture children’s attention and make learning and literacy development fun. The permanently attached VOX™ Reader transforms an ordinary print book into an all-in-one read-along. There’s no need for computers, tablets or CDs. Children simply push a button to listen and read.

Books on DVD – audiovisual adaptations bring outstanding children’s picture books to life and help children fall in love with books and reading. Our DVDs are word-for-word adaptations of the books they are based on, and help all readers improve their fluency, vocabulary and comprehension.

NEW! Launchpad Reading Academy, a fun and focused way to help kids improve their reading skills. This multi-media tablet contains interactive storybooks, videos, and apps that help kids learn to read, progress through reading levels, and fall in love with reading. This 5-level guided reading system helps kids master verbal, reading, and writing skills — starting at any level. Every app, storybook, and video has been hand-selected to help kids gain the knowledge they need to transition from learning-to-read to reading-to-learn.

Mango offers over 70 world language courses expertly designed to adapt to a diverse range of learning needs, styles, and backgrounds. Mango prepares learners for realistic conversations and communication and the confidence needed to communicate in a new language.

researchIT CT online reference databases: newspapers, magazines, journals, genealogy & more. researchIT CT provides all students, faculty and residents with online access to essential library and information resources. Through researchIT CT, a core level of information resources including secured access to licensed databases is available to every citizen in Connecticut.

Many families are pursuing distance learning – at least part-time, and while it can be an incredibly rewarding experience for families to learn together, we know it can also feel overwhelming to find the right tools and resources that will help your child succeed. Libraries are here to help!