Wednesday, February 23, 2011
We are in the thick of tax season, and some Montgomery County residents have been caught off guard by recent changes made by the IRS. This is the first year that individuals and businesses won't automatically be receiving paper tax form packages in the mail. The IRS website explains, "The IRS is taking this step because of the continued growth in electronic filing and the availability of free options to taxpayers, as well as to help reduce costs."
Most Montgomery County Public Libraries DO still order a large selection of the most popular tax forms for our patrons' convenience. To see the list of participating libraries, visit the library's 2011 Tax Information page.
Individuals and businesses can also download forms and instruction booklets from the IRS website, place an online order for forms to be sent to them in the mail, or call and request forms using the telephone number 1-800-829-3676.
To find local, free assistance with filing your 2010 tax return, visit the Tax Preparation Help in the Libraries and Tax Preparation Help in the Community sections of the library's 2011 Tax Information Page.
And don't forget, the filing deadline this year is April 18, 2011!
Wednesday, February 16, 2011
I can’t stand cold weather. I don’t know about you, but Winter is a tough time; being a native Washingtonian doesn’t make it any easier. I’m counting the days until June, until we get 90 degree heat and a minimum of 110% humidity.
Or at least, this Friday’s anticipated balmy 70 degrees will be a welcomed change.
What’s a person to do during those awesome hot days of Summer?
When was the last time you explored some of Maryland’s wonders?
Antietam National Battlefield, site of one of the most pivotal and devastating battles in the Civil War, is in Sharpsburg. After 12 hours of savage fighting on September 17, 1862, 23,000 soldiers were killed, wounded or left missing -- it was the bloodiest day of the war. About 87,000 Union troops commanded by Gen. George B. McClellan had intercepted 40,000 of Gen. Robert E. Lee’s invading Confederate troops. The Union victory led to Abraham Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation.
Three national parks and two state parks are within a dozen miles of Sharpsburg. The 184-mile long C&O Canal towpath passes near the town.
Located in a river valley in “Mountain Maryland” – the Appalachians in Allegany County – Cumberland is an historic town (27 listings in the National Register of Historic Places) that has evolved into a vibrant arts community. A new Arts and Entertainment District is the cornerstone of a revived downtown section.
Located on the banks of the Potomac River, the Harbor has an assortment of entertainment venues and panoramic views of the Washington, D.C. monuments. And if you’re looking for outdoor fun, the Capital Region has ample opportunities for hiking, biking, boating and golf.
A chief port on the Patuxent River, Benedict was one of the first designated ports established by the 1683 Act for Advancement of Trade. Storehouses flourished near the wharves and ship building began earnestly in the late 1600s. Between 1817 and 1937, steamboats carrying freight and passengers stopped at Benedict en route to Baltimore and ports on the Rappahannock and Potomac rivers.
Benedict was the landing site in August 1814, for 4,500 British troops who marched to the nation's capital. After capturing and burning the city, the troops returned to Benedict carrying their wounded and supplies. Two of the British soldiers who died were buried at Old Fields Chapel cemetery in Hughesville.
During the Civil War, Camp Stanton was established in Benedict for recruiting and training a black infantry to serve in the Union Army.
Cedar Island Wildlife Management Area, Somerset:
Because of its nearly 3,000 acres of tidal marsh, ponds and creeks, black ducks flock to the island located in Tangier Sound near the town of Crisfield. Other tidal wetland wildlife species are also attracted to the area, but its attraction for black ducks is legendary. In the 1960s, wildlife biologists became concerned about the black duck, which seemed to be declining in numbers. Loss of habitat was thought to be the primary cause. Today, black duck populations are on the mend and Cedar Island WMA is one of Maryland's best winter habitats for these beautiful birds.
Enjoy the sights, sounds – and heat!
Monday, February 07, 2011
A recent spate of intrigue and research took me to different ends of MCPL’s spectrum of resources. One day I found my deciding to jump on the bandwagon and try the latest in book reading technology. Never much one for listening to audiobooks (regardless of the format), my curiousity was piqued when word came forth that Overdrive, one of our ebook and eaudiobook providers, had launched an update of its app for iPhones
(also works on iPod Touches). I decided to download it on mine and give it a whirl. I’m now three or four chapters in to my first ebook, So Yesterday by Scott Westerfeld.
So far, it’s been a pleasant experience. The ebook even tells me how many pages I have left in each chapter as I go along.
Apparently, many of you have made a connection with our virtual collection of reading materials. A recent check showed that on the selected day only 22 of the 1,467 epub formatted ebooks in our collection were checked in and ready to download. The rest are sitting in various iPhones, Androids, iPads, and other such devices, being devoured by rabid 21st century readers.
For those who haven't made the connection yet, MCPL has two great electronic library resources worth plugging into: Overdrive
(for ebooks and eaudiobooks) and NetLibrary
(mainly audiobooks but also has ebook versions of CliffsNotes). Note to eReaders: only epub files can be read on Apple devices (iPhone, iPad, iPod). The app comes in handy in this regard since it will only search and display titles that can be downloaded to one of these devices. Happy eReading!
At the other end of the spectrum, spending the holidays with my family got me interested in once again exploring old census records in HeritageQuest
in search of my ancestors. I had previously been able to find members of my mother’s family and my dad’s maternal grandparents but my dad’s paternal grandparents had proven to be elusive. My search was made complicated because my last name isn’t easily spellable. After much searching, I found them. Our last name was one letter off in the 1930 census (and not the letter that’s usually wrong) and was spelled even worse in the 1920 census.
Looking at these old census records provides one with more information than you might think. Apparently, my great-grandfather was a catcher by profession, early in his working career. No, he wasn’t a forerunner of Johnny Bench or Ivan Rodriguez. He actually worked in a tin mill, catching the sheets of tin as they came out of the roller and putting them back in to be flattened even further. The censuses provide a wealth of other information as well, including age when married, language spoken, year of immigration, birth country or state of parents, and much more. In the process of discovering this wealth of information, I found a new challenge for myself, my paternal grandmother is thus far no where to be found in the 1920 census though she’s got to be in there somewhere.
Whether you’re delving into the latest e-technology or digging up the past, MCPL is here for you!
Just a week after this blog was written, Overdrive announced the release of its new app which is optimized for iPad! Check it out here
or search for it in the Apple App Store directly from yoru iPad.
Wednesday, February 02, 2011
I’m the six hundred and sixteenth person in the county waiting for the Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest; one hundred and seventy other YA readers are ahead of me for Mockingjay. So, what do I read now?
Read-alikes – that’s what we look for when we want something like…something we like!
You can always choose a work by the same author, a non-fiction book on the same subject – they’ll be at hand on the same shelf. But, having slogged through all of Lindsey Davis’ Marcus Didius Falco mysteries, where do I go? What’s like Unbroken by Laura Hillenbrand?
Try our Books and Authors database or Novelist Plus to analyze your favorites and find other authors, titles or even different genres that hold the elements you find appealing.
Novelist Plus even has a friendly lavender button on the home page to tutor you in its use.
Try looking up an old favorite story and see what they have to suggest to you. Then, clicking on the book’s title or picture will bring you to the catalog entry, where you can place it on hold. Hopefully, you’ll be first in line!
Social Networking is hot, hot, hot these days. A highfalutin’ term for ‘communicating with like-minded folk’, social networking and reading go together like ham and eggs. (For vegans, like beans and rice!)
My favorite website for reading and social networking is Librarything. You can find a forum for any possible book or reading-related subject, and maybe even score a pre-pub book to review! And it's really cool to keep track of all the books you own.
If you are like me, and you have thousands of books you’ve read cluttering up your home, consider setting them free to please and enlighten someone else. You can track your book’s travels on bookcrossing.com. They’re even having their international convention in Washington, DC this year!
How about downloading a book to enjoy on your computer or another electronic device before the paper-and-ink copy can come your way? The Maryland Digital eLibrary or Netlibrary databases can give you access to ebooks or downloadable audiobooks. The PDF and Adobe EPUB books can be read on your Nook eReader or iPad, too.
Montgomery County Public Libraries