Monday, December 31, 2007

Opinion Survery

The Waterloo Public Library is interested in learning your feelings about our operating hours. Please take a few moments to visit our Survey Monkey to voice your opinion.


c 2007 Waterloo Public Library

Saturday, December 29, 2007

Sanborn Maps Move to State Library

The Sanborn Maps product, a collection of maps dating back to the 19th Century, will no longer be available through the Waterloo Public Library. However, library patrons may continue to browse this amazing resource via the State Library of Iowa's Sanborn Maps subscription.

A State Library card, necessary to login to Sanborn Maps, can be acquired online in minutes for no charge.

The downside of getting Sanborn Maps through the State Library is having to get another card; the upside is that patrons may now use Sanborn Maps from home; the Waterloo Public Library subscription required users to be in the WPL building.

Another advantage to using the State Library's Sanborn Maps service is that cardholders will also have access to the State Library's collection of online resources. The titles range from newspapers, to EBSCOHost and from medical to legal. Several of the resources are open to any user, but many require a login using a State Library card.

Dropping the Waterloo Public Library Sanborn Maps subscription allows us to reallocate money to other products, our patrons will have access to a great product from home, and the State Library will have the opportunity to show off its wonderful services to Iowans.

c 2007 Waterloo Public Library

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Download 2007 Tax Forms!

It's that time of year again. The Iowa Department of Revenue and the Internal Revenue Service are sending out tons of our favorite forms. Usually, we'll have the paper versions you need. However, if we don't, simply follow the links from the Waterloo Public Library Reference blog directly to the appropriate agency's site.

From there, you may quickly download and inexpensively print the most current version of the form(s) you need.

Librarians won't give you tax advice, but we can help you to find the tax form that you're looking for.

c 2007 Waterloo Public Library

Second Floor Window Work

The window crew is now working on the second floor. The walls surrounding the 000-500 non-fiction, as well as the periodicals, are now behind a plastic shelter. The 000-150 area has the shelter right up against it; items on those shelves may only be retrieved by staff members on request.

The job superintendent estimates that this area will be blocked off for at least two weeks. After the windows are replaced the walls must then be resurfaced and painted. Once this is done, the work will proceed along the south wall in a clockwise motion.

While the work is in progress, let's all be careful to not enter the work area or otherwise interfere with the job. We're going to have quite a mess for the next few weeks, but I'm looking forward to having new windows and walls.

As always, if you have questions or comments, contact me at

c 2007 Waterloo Public Library

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Cunningham Carolers visit the WPL

Carolers from the Dr. Walter Cunningham School for excellence entertained staff and patrons in the lobby of the Waterloo Public Library today. This makes two consecutive years that the students have visited the library. We hope to see them again next year!

c 2007 Waterloo Public Library

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Free Downloadable Movies!

Card holding patrons of the Waterloo Public Library have access to full length downloadable movies via our subscription to MyLibraryDV. Users may choose from several collections: Movies, documentaries, food, health, how-to, kids, literature, and travel.

My guess is that the theatrical movie collections, which include classics, foreign films, Hollywood Favorites, independent films, and Sony Pictures Entertainment, will be the most popular. However, those of you who like travelogues and cooking shows will find that MyLibraryDV is the place to go for video entertainment.

Viewing the movies requires the installation of a viewer and movie management utility, each of which is easily downloaded from the MyLibraryDV site. You then use the viewer to choose your movie which you must then checkout using your Waterloo Public Library card.

Currently, the most practical way to view a MyLibraryDV title is from home using a broadband connection. However, sometime later this winter, look for the library to establish a viewing station somewhere on the second floor. Stay tuned for details.

c 2007 Waterloo Public Library

Monday, December 17, 2007

Window Project Continues

Despite single digit temperatures, our window replacement crew continues to work their way around the third floor.

It looks like they may have to briefly close the public entrance either later today or early tomorrow. If that happens, we'll post signs directing patrons to the staff entrance in the courtyard.

c 2007 Waterloo Public Library

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Madeleine Albright visits WPL!

On Saturday, we had a surprise visitor at the library. Madeleine Albright, the first female Secretary of State, was here speaking in the meeting rooms to a group on behalf of Hillary Clinton's candidacy.

After commenting that we have a beautiful building, Secretary Albright took several minutes to sign autographs and have her picture taken with patrons and staff.

We have two books in our catalog by Madeleine Albright. To see if they're currently available, click here. For more information about Secretary Albright, check out the Biography Resource Center or click here.

c 2007 Waterloo Public Library

More Express Computers

The City of Waterloo MIS Department has recently allocated more computers to the library: Five new Vostro 200s and 3 Optiplex G240s. Over the next few weeks you'll see them added to our collection of workstations.

Public Access Computer #7, out-of-service for a couple of months, will soon return. We'll be adding an Express computer in the downstairs lobby area. And, we'll also be adding a flatbed-scanner equipped Express Computer in the Reference Department.

Other improvements on the horizon include upgraded Research Stations as well as enhanced computer services in the Teen Area. Providing enough equipment to sastify the computer needs of WPL patrons is one of my major goals. If you have questions or suggestions, please submit them to me at


c 2007 Waterloo Public Library

Friday, December 07, 2007

Computer Classes at the WPL

The Learning Center has recently expanded the number of seats from 6 to 9, but as you can see, we're still short on space. Kim V., Literacy Services Administrator, is shown here presenting her Mail Merge class to a packed house; just in time for the Christmas letters!

The Black Hawk County Gaming Association recently granted Kim V application for money to fund a new Training Center in the south west corner (formerly housing the 700s) of the second floor. By this time next year she'll be packing a room of 15 instead only 9!

To see what classes we're offering, visit our the Patron Classes link on our website.

c 2007 Waterloo Public Library

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Newspaper Archive now Available!

The newest addition to the Waterloo Public Library's collection of online databases is Access Newspaper Archive. This product, visibile from any computer within the library's local area network, allows patrons to browse newspapers from as far back as 1759 to as current as 2006.

We'll soon be adding links to Access Newspaper Archive from our website, but until then, point your Public Access Computer's web browser at and start searching!

c 2007 Waterloo Public Library

Sunday, December 02, 2007

Learn About the Iowa Caucuses at WPL!

Monday night we'll be hosting UNI Professor Donna Hoffman to talk about the Iowa Caucuses. The caucuses are only a month away -- come learn about why they play such an important role in selecting our next president. In addition to giving a talk on the topic, Professor Hoffman will be available to answer your questions about the caucuses and the 2008 presidential elections. Voter registration forms will be available, so you can register to vote at the event.

Refreshments will be available. Come to the meeting rooms at 7:00 p.m. on Monday, December 3rd for "The Iowa Caucuses: Past, Present and Future."

c 2007 Waterloo Public Library

Window Installation Proceeds

Workers are now replacing windows on the third floor of the Waterloo Public Library. Soon, they will be removing the windows above the stairwell. Once that process begins, it will be necessary to block access to the stairs as it would not be safe to work above our heads.

The job superintendent assures me that the stairs will be closed for only a day or two and that in an emergency (e.g., fire or tornado) it will be possible to tear down the plastic and go. Certainly, we mustn't use the elevators if the fire alarms sound!

Later in December I expect to see the window crew on the second floor. We'll have to put up with some inconvenience as the work progresses, but having new windows and wall coverings will make it all worthwhile!

c 2007 Waterloo Public Library

Friday, November 30, 2007

Friends' Book Sale!

The Waterloo Public Library Friends group is conducting their book sale today and tomorrow. After a "members only" event yesterday, the Book Sale continues today (November 30) and tomorrow (December 1) from 9:00 a.m. until 3:00 p.m.

c 2007 Waterloo Public Library

Monday, November 26, 2007

Variable Computer Time

Demand for computer time at the Waterloo Public Library continues to grow. As you may have noticed, competition for computers is especially great later in the afternoons and on weekends. We are aware of the shortage of computers and are working to add more. In the meantime, our reservation system vendor has helped us to create scripts which adapt session to time to time-of day.

The result is that patrons who log on early in the day may have their sessions extended for as long as 90 minutes. However, at 2:00 p.m. each day a script runs which shortens the time available to 60 minutes--the minimum required by library policy.

The maximum time is also limited to 60 minutes on weekends.

At some point in 2008 we're hoping to add a few more computers. Until then, please bear with us as we attempt to allocate computer time as fairly and efficiently as possible.

If you have any questions or suggestions, please contact

c 2007 Waterloo Public Library

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Good News/Bad News

The good news is that the the Waterloo Public Library's leaky, drafty windows are about to be replaced. The bad news is that the contractor will be using about half of the parking lot to store materials and equipment.

We expect the windows to start coming out the Tuesday before Thanksgiving. The contractor will start on the third floor and gradually work his way to the ground. With good weather and no complications we expect the project to be complete by late winter.

For more information, and a progress update, stay tuned to the Waterloo Public Library Reference Blog!

c 2007 Waterloo Public Library

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Adult programming at WPL

We've got a lot of exciting programs coming up at WPL!

On Monday, December 3rd at 7:00 p.m., UNI Professor Donna Hoffman will be discussing and answering questions about the Iowa caucuses. This talk will include a look at how Iowa's caucuses became so important, what role they play in electing presidents today, and what the future holds for the caucuses.

On Wednesday, December 12 at 7:00 p.m., author Todd Mishler ( will be giving a presentation about college football rivalries as he talks about his new book, Blood, Sweat, and Cheers: Great Football Rivalries of the Big Ten. After his presentation, he'll answer questions and be available for book signing.

We've got several other events planned, including easy ways to improve your health and the transition to digital cable. Check the blog for updates as we get them. We're also interested in getting your ideas about what programming you would like to see offered for adults at WPL. Email us at, call the Reference Desk at 291-4476 or chat with us on Meebo (see the box on the right) if you've got suggestions.

c 2007 Waterloo Public Library

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Change in Computer Time Limits

Currently, Waterloo Public Library Public Access Computers allow patrons at least an hour of usage each day. If no one is waiting to use a computer at the end of that hour, the system automatically extends the session to a total of 90 minutes.

Due to intense demand for computer time--especially in the late afternoon and evening--beginning Monday, November 5, sessions will no longer be automatically extended at the end of one hour. Staff members may, at their discretion, extend times manually upon request during times of low computer usage.

Please contact either me ( or other staff with questions or concerns.

c 2007 Waterloo Public Library

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Second Floor Changes

Second floor patrons will see some major changes this afternoon. The stack mover fairies visited the library last night and rearranged our layout.

The periodicals are now over by the corner of West Park and Commercial. This isn't their final resting place, but will have to do for now.

Older periodicals are in the process of being moved to empty shelves over by the 700s. Again, this is a temporary location while we shift the rest of the collection.

The fancy tables and lamps have been moved to the east wall where they will sit until we have room to put them next to the windows. The periodicals and tables have displaced the teen area. However, as the non-fiction collection is shifted to the east of the stairwell, space for the teens will open up in the area now housing the 600s.

I realize that all of these changes are hard to follow, but when they are complete, the second floor will be a more pleasant and useful place for reading, browsing, using the computers, or taking classes. As always, contact a staff member if you have difficulty finding materials or have suggestions.

Thank-you for your patience.

c 2007 Waterloo Public Library

Thursday, October 25, 2007

FAFSA: Federal Student Aid

The Federal Student Aid service no longer provides us with paper application forms. If you wish to make an application, try these links: FSA Publications and Federal Student Aid.

If you have further questions, check at the reference desk or try the InfoWiz virtual reference service in the upper right hand corner of this page.

c 2007 Waterloo Public Library

Sunday, October 21, 2007

WPL Express Computer

Patrons who only want to print a resume or quickly check their email now have a new option: Express Computing.

The Express Computer may be used for up to 20 minutes each day. Patrons needing more than 20 minutes should either log on to a Public Access Computer using a library card at the signup station, or by persuading a librarian to fork over a temporary "guest" pass.

Once the Acceptable Use Policy has been "accepted" by the patron, the Internet browser will launch and will remain running for 20 minutes. The time will be counted down in the lower right-hand corner of the screen. Warnings of an impending reboot will be given with 5 and then 2 minutes remaining. Closing the browser will result in a reboot the computer and all work not saved to an external medium (e.g., thumb drive), will be erased.

Patrons wishing to use an Office application should select "decline" at the Acceptable Use Policy page, then launch the desired application from the appropriate desktop shortcut. There is no timer on the Office applications, but staying on for more than 20 minutes may result in the session being manually terminated by staff. Patrons needing more time should avail themselves of the reservation system.

Printing: For either Internet or Office applications, send print jobs by selecting File Print and "ok". A few seconds after sending the job, a dialog box will request a name. Give the print job a descriptive name. Print jobs may then be retrieved by logging onto the print release station with "express".

Express computers are a novelty for the WPL staff and patrons. As time goes on, we'll probably learn from our mistakes and make changes accordingly. Meanwhile, give the new station a try and please report any problems by adding a comment to this blog.


c 2007 Waterloo Public Library

Saturday, October 13, 2007

Downtown Waterloo's River Front Renaissance

Downtown Waterloo has seen dramatic changes over the past construction season; more of the same is on the way. Flood walls are being repaired, the Center for the Arts is building a Youth Pavilion, the Fourth Street Dam is getting an extension, and preparatory work for an exposition area is happening south of Commercial Street in front of the library.

As the construction continues, we will be taking pictures from either the roof of the library or maybe the balcony. We at the library are pleased to have a front row seat to Waterloo's Downtown Renaissance!

For a full screen slide show, click the image below.

c 2007 Waterloo Public Library

Monday, October 01, 2007

The Day the Ceilings Fell!

WPL librarians got a nasty surprise when they arrived at work Monday morning: Overnight rains had flooded large areas of the second and third floors. A contract roofer removed the room to the library's penthouse (where the air handler and elevator equipment live) late last week, then walked away without installing any tarps.

The sorry results can be seen in the slide show above. Preliminary estimates suggest that the roofer's are liable for at least $6,000 worth of damaged materials, and a cleaning crew was still working 15 hours later. They're using heaters and fans to dry the carpets; we hope to stay ahead of the mold and mildew.

I see that NOAA is predicting rain for Tuesday; let's hope the roofer's get us buttoned up first.

c 2007 Waterloo Public Library

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Harry Potter Party

The Harry Potter Party is long over with, but now is a good time to time to reflect on the party and start discussing the final book, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. I am not going to spoil the ending, because I know there are still some people who have not read the book. So for those of you who haven't read the book don't read the comments! But here are a few questions to start the discussion:

Did the book end the way you wanted it to?

What shocked you the most?

Were your predictions right?

Did you cry? If so, what made you cry?

For more pictures click on the link below.
Posted by Picasa

Friday, July 13, 2007

WiFi Returns to the WPL!

Waterloo Public Library WiFi Internet access has been erratic over the past few months due to problems with our ISP. Friday evening that access was upgraded to from a residential quality broadband connection to a 100 MB fiber connection.

Initial testing shows that the system works and is much faster than the old one. However, we won't be able to judge reliability until we've run it for a few days. If you have connection problems, please contact the Reference Desk. Or, login to one of our PACs and send an email to

Thank-you for your patience; the improvement should be worth the wait.

c 2007 Waterloo Public Library

Friday, June 29, 2007

Opposing Viewpoints

Waterloo Public Library patrons wanting to research controversial issues now have an extremely powerful resource: The Thomson-Gale Opposing Viewpoints database.

Patrons using Opposing Viewpoints from within the library may access it directly; from outside of the library a card number will be required.

c 2007 Waterloo Public Library

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Security Cameras come to the WPL

Security cameras are now watching the comings and goings of Waterloo Public Library patrons and staff. Hawkeye Alarm's installation of a Pelco video monitoring system allows us to record activity at all library entrances.

The recordings won't be saved indefinitely, but may be used to help us to identify people of interest.

c 2007 Waterloo Public Library

Friday, June 22, 2007

Severe Weather Policy

With active weather upon us, now is a good time to review the Waterloo Public Library's severe weather procedures. Upon activation of the Black Hawk County Early Warning Sirens, staff members will advise library to patrons to either proceed to the basement hallway or to leave the building.

The public entrance will be locked and a management person stationed at the staff entrance will allow patrons to leave the building or will let people into the building with the proviso that they will proceed to the basement hallway.

Staff will monitor situation and as soon as the weather warning expires will notify patrons and allow them to return to normal activity.

The Waterloo Public Library is housed in a very sturdy building, but also has many large windows. If we were to be hit by even a moderate tornado, flying glass and other debris would create a very hazardous situation. Sitting out a warning in the basement isn't much fun, but we want you to be safe.

If you have any questions or comments, leave them on the blog or email me at

c 2007 Waterloo Public Library

Friday, June 08, 2007

My Waterloo Days

The sun decided to shine on the Waterloo Public Library's entry in the annual My Waterloo Days parade last Saturday morning. The float promotes the theme of the library youth department's summer reading program: "Egyptian Expedition."

For more parade pictures may be seen at our parade web album.

c 2007 Waterloo Public Library

Monday, June 04, 2007

Why are the Shelves Empty?

For about a year now, librarians have been carefully weeding the non-fiction collection of the Waterloo Public Library. An analysis of the the collection's circulation shows that the turnover rate for last year was quite low and has been trending lower for several years. One of the reasons for the is decline is the accumulation of materials that, while of interest when purchased, are no longer desired by our patrons.

With the shelves filled with outdated books, patrons have difficulty finding the newer items that they desire. The library is taking several steps to address this issue. First, we're aggressively weeding the collection for the first time in several years. Librarians use a feature of our LMS (Library Management System) to generate lists of items that have not been checked out for several years.

With the list in hand, they then work their way through the stacks looking for those unused items. Sometimes the items are lost or stolen. Usually, however, the item is on the shelf waiting for attention. The librarian looks at the item and decides whether to keep or "weed," the book.

If the item is "MUST"y (i.e., Misleading, Ugly, Superseded, or Trivial), out it goes. Sometimes, an ugly or superseded item may be replaced, but usually the book's time has past and it must be discarded to make room for newer items. A good example of obsolete books includes our collection of books on the Savings & Loan collapse. The S&L failures happened in the 1980s with the solution coming in the early 1990s. Patrons no longer wish to read to read out a settled issue. There's no good reason to devote shelf space to discussions of the S&Ls: they no longer exist!

When we get caught up with our weeding, we plan to shift much of the non-fiction collection towards the north east corner of the second floor. The room created by the shift will be used for a teen area and a biography browser. We also expect to have room for the AV collection (e.g., movies, music, audio-books) which is currently housed on the first floor.

Thus far, we're still trying to visualize the final result. However, one thing we know for sure: books which haven't been used for years gradually deteriorate and detract from the quality of the collection. We'll continue to weed vigorously as we make plans for a more current, vibrant collection that our patrons will want to use.

If you have questions or comments about what we're up to, leave a comment on the blog or contact me at If you find that a favorite book is no longer on the shelf, ask us to acquire it by inter-library loan, or maybe we'll even buy a replacement copy!

c 2007 Waterloo Public Library

Friday, June 01, 2007

Friends' Book Sale!

The Friends' Book and White Elephant sale continues today until 3:00 p.m. and resumes tomorrow (Saturday June 2) morning at 9:00. This year's sale coincides with the annual My Waterloo Days festivities. Buy some books, watch the parade, listen to the music and maybe visit the food vendors. There's plenty for everyone to see and do in downtown Waterloo!

c 2007 Waterloo Public Library

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Community Organizations Directory

The Waterloo Public Library web site took a step forward this morning when staff transferred the Community Organizations Directory--a joint effort of the library and the Greater Cedar Valley Chambers of Commerce--from an Adobe Portable Document File (i.e., PDF) to a Google Documents spreadsheet. The new format is easier for patrons to use and much more efficient for staff members to update.

The old format required editing of a Word document, conversion to PDF format, followed by transmission to a webmaster would then FTP it to the website. The use of a Google documents spreadsheet allows the staff member in charge of the directory to make changes in real time from any Internet capable computer.

As time goes on, look for us to move more library generated content to web documents that can be edited online. It's faster, cheaper, and provides better service to you, our patrons.

c 2007 Waterloo Public Library

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Public Access Computer Behavior

All patrons of the Waterloo Public Library are entitled to use library assets so long as their activities are not disruptive. Recently, we have seen some violations of our Public Access Computer Use Policy, which states that no more than two patrons may use a computer at any one time.

Library employees will be especially watchful for violations of this policy. When we observe more than two patrons at a computer, a warning will be given. If the behavior recurs, the session of the patron logged into the computer will be terminated.

If you are using a library computer and are bothered by groups of patrons gathering around a computer, and a staff member does not intervene, please ask for assistance at the desk. If you prefer to do so anonymously, use the "Library Help" utility on the upper-right hand portion of the Reference Department home-page. Ask for help, and if the virtual reference stations is active, you should get a quick response.

To report problems or make suggestions, please email me, Mike Dargan, at

c 2007 Waterloo Public Library

Friday, May 11, 2007

Motorized Cart

With 60,000 square feet (about 1.3 acres) of floor space, getting from one end of the Waterloo Public Library to the other can be quite a hike. For those of us who find walking to be a challenge, yet still wish to browse the stacks, the library provides a motorized cart. If you wish to use the cart, go to the Welcome Desk and ask.

Once you've acknowledged having heard the instructions by signing a form, you'll get the key and off you go.

If you're a caretaker and would like some help getting your charge into the building, we have a wheelchair that can be used to bring someone in from the parking lot.

c 2007 Waterloo Public Library

Sunday, April 29, 2007

It's a New Photocopier!

Photocopying at the Waterloo Public Library made a great leap forward last week with the arrival of a new Ikon copier equipped with an excellent coin box.

The new coin box accepts dollar bills (I can't remember when the last one did so), and the new photocopier has a very easy-to-use duplexor. The copier enlarges, reduces, and is capable of making large format copies.

The price per copy remains the same at 15 cents, but the new machine is much faster and capable of better quality. This improvement is yet another example of the great work done by the WPL Friends!

c 2007 Waterloo Public Library

Saturday, April 28, 2007

Just For Fun

Enjoy this cartoon by staff member Tim K.!

c 2007 Waterloo Public Library

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Social Networking:!

Everyone's talking about the social networking phenomenon and, the fifth most popular site on the Web, virtually defines the term.

Participate in a free Waterloo Public Library workshop over the next few days and you'll be able to hold up your end of the conversation! For more information, visit our website. To reserve a seat, call 291 4496.

c 2007 Waterloo Public Library

Monday, April 09, 2007

On Line Catalog Enhancements

The Waterloo Public Library WebOPACs (library jargon for On Line Catalog) have recently undergone significant hardware and software upgrades. The City of Waterloo recently provided the library with about a dozen surplus computers that are much faster than the old WebOPACs. As library MIS staff swapped out the old hardware for new, we also greatly expanded the resources available.

Traditionally, WebOPACs have only allowed access to materials in the library collection. Access to other Internet resources was limited to avoid having the machines tied up by other uses when a patron wished to lookup a book title. All of the catalog functionality remains, but users may now use the WebOPAC to access other selected online resources.

Examples include our EbscoHost (search and retrieval of full-text periodicals), Reference USA (phone numbers and addresses), Heritage Quest (genealogy), as well as our online newspapers. The WebOPACs also include links to other local and selected major libraries.

Other enhancements are on the way. We expect to add access to printing in the near future and will enable a link to our Virtual Reference service.

c 2007 Waterloo Public Library

Thursday, March 29, 2007

Free Computer Classes

Are you looking for a job? Tired of squinting at the classified job ads? Looking for a place to post your resume? If so, look no farther than the "Internet Job Searching" classes offered by the Waterloo Public Library the week of April 1-7.

Veteran computer classroom trainer Kim Van Deest will be conducting the workshops Monday at 1:30 p.m., Thursday 6:00 p.m., and Saturday morning at 10:00 a.m. Seating is limited: Reserve a place now by calling 319 291 4496.

For details of future class offerings visit our webpage, and follow the "Patron Classes" link.

c 2007 Waterloo Public Library

Saturday, March 17, 2007

Suckow's Celebrate Anniversary at the WPL

Amber Suckow and her husband Matt--a local man serving as a soldier in Iraq--celebrated their wedding anniversary today via an ICN session courtesy of The Freedom Calls - ICN Operation Hometown Link. The two-way video conference was arranged by KWWL-TV and was conducted in the Waterloo Public Library ICN classroom.

c 2007 Waterloo Public Library

Thursday, March 15, 2007

Search WorldCat

Ever hear of WorldCat? Until recently, this OCLC product was known primarily to librarians and used mostly by catalogers. Recently, however, access to WorldCat's holdings--more than 82 million records held by some 56,000 libraries--has been opened up to anyone with a web browser.

If you want to try your hand at WorldCat searching, a link can be found on the Waterloo Public Library website under the "Resources" tab.

c 2007 Waterloo Public Library

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Teen Advisory Group Meeting

The Waterloo Public Library Teen Advisory Group meets later this week, March 15, at 7:00 p.m., in the Teen Area. Agenda items include April Poetry Events and Summer Programming.

Snacks and drinks will be provided. For more information, call the Waterloo Public Library at 319 291 4496 and ask for either Kristi or Deb.

c 2007 Waterloo Public Library

Thursday, March 08, 2007

A Night with Laura Ingalls Wilder!

Fans of Laura Ingalls Wilder are in for a treat: an evening of slides and stories about Laura's life and times!

Join us at 7:00 p.m., April 18, 2007 in meeting rooms A and B as Sarah Uthoff--reference librarian by day, Ingalls Wilder channeler by night--does her spell-binding presentation on the creator of the Little House series!

This event is made possible by grants from the Humanities Iowa board and the Friends of the Waterloo Public Library.

Stay tuned for further details!

c 2007 Waterloo Public Library

Monday, February 26, 2007

Schools are closed, but we're not!

Area schools, including Hawkeye Community College, are closed today. The Waterloo Public Library, however, is open for business as usual.

The phones are ringing off the hook and students on snow-holiday are queuing up for time on our Public Access Computers. Morning has been busy and we'll probably have an even bigger crowd after lunch.

We'll be open until 9:00 p.m. this evening and barring on any new weather developments will reopen Tomorrow at 9:00 a.m.

c 2007 Waterloo Public Library

Sunday, February 25, 2007

We'll be Open!

The Waterloo Public Library will be open today from 1:00-5:00 p.m. Thanks to the hard work of the City of Waterloo Streets Department!

c 2007 Waterloo Public Library

Saturday, February 24, 2007

WPL Closed for Blizzard!

What a mess. We've had freezing rain, sleet, and snow since Friday afternoon and as I write this (Saturday evening) NOAA has issued a Blizzard Warning through 6:00 p.m. Sunday. The WPL employees who made it to work this morning were told to go home after intermittent power outages made work impractical.

Travel on all major highways in Black Hawk County is discouraged due to ice, high winds, and downed power lines. News media report that large portions of north Waterloo are without electricity.

The big question now is, "will the Waterloo Public Library open Sunday at 1:00 p.m.?" Maybe. Maybe not. The director will be evaluating road conditions Sunday morning. As soon as I hear her decision, I'll post it here.

c 2007 Waterloo Public Library

Thursday, February 22, 2007

Test the Speed of your Internet Connection

Are there times when your Internet experience seems a bit slow? Do you wonder if the problem is caused by a poor connection? Or maybe a balky computer?

One way to tell what's going on (or not going on!) is to visit and find out just how good your connection is. Speedtest will check both upload and download bandwidth which are then displayed in both analog and digital formats. Download speeds at the WPL often approach 10,000 kb/second, while uploads are usually somewhat less. During busy times of the day, speeds will decline somewhat.

The upshot? If your connection seems slow, run speedtest. If you see more than 2,000 kb/s in bandwidth, maybe the site with which you're trying to connect is having problems.

c 2007 Waterloo Public Library

Friday, February 16, 2007

WPL backs the Panthers!

Waterloo Public Library Youth librarian and ILL specialist Kay S. shows her support for the University of Northern Iowa Panthers!

c 2007 Waterloo Public Library

Saturday, February 10, 2007

Lost in the Stacks

A recent addition to the Waterloo Public Library blog collection is Lost in the Stacks. For several weeks now, library staff and patrons have been blogging reviews of items held by the library. This blog has become one of my favorites; I hope that you'll enjoy it too.

c 2007 Waterloo Public Library

Monday, January 29, 2007

OpenOffice: The Free Office Suite

Christmas is past and Santa probably dropped off more than a few computers. If you're one of the lucky ones, you may be a little disappointed by the fact that your teaser version of Microsoft Office 2003 is about to expire, leaving you to get by with Microsoft Works. Before you shell out a couple of hundred bucks for the full version of Office 2003, give yourself a break: download and test drive Sun Microsystems' gift to society: OpenOffice 2.1.

OpenOffice is a clone of the better-known Microsoft product that includes analogs of the office suite applications. The freeware product will run on Windows, as well as Macintosh or Linux. You'll want a broadband connection to download it, but once you have it on your computer, installation is relatively straightforward.

Are you a bit leery of installing a freeware application on your own PC? Don't fret, there's an easy way to to take a test drive. If you're a Gmail user you've probably noticed a "Docs and Spreadsheets" menu bar near the upper left hand corner of the screen. Believe it or not, Google now supports native OpenOffice document editing and also provides nearly three gigabytes of online storage! Amazingly, anyone with access to a computer on the Internet is ready to produce documents and spreadsheets that may then be accessible from any other Internet PC.

So why would one wish to download and install OpenOffice to his or her own PC? Bandwidth limitations mean that even very fast connections (e.g., the 10MB Ethernet enjoyed by WPL patrons) means that online applications still run less quickly than local applications. My advice? Test OpenOffice at your local library. If you like it, download a copy (maybe to a big USB drive?) and install it at home.

c 2007 Waterloo Public Library

Monday, January 22, 2007

Books! Books! Books!

Bored? Looking for something fun to read? If so, stop by the Waterloo Public Library and see the new display tables. Whether your taste runs to novels, mysteries, biographies, how-to, or self-help, we either have what you want or will find a way to get it.

The books you're seeing above are mostly those that have been read by WPL book club participants. We'll have a steady supply of them, as well as a doubling of our ever popular Express Books collection.

Be careful, though. As I was working on a balky catalog computer this afternoon I had to walk by the display tables several times. The first time I saw all the books, the second time I noticed a Philip Roth title that I've been wanting to read since 2004. On the third pass I couldn't help myself: I picked up The Plot Against America, walked it five steps to the self-check machine, and now I have another treasure on my night stand! Let's hope I'm able to get up in time for work tomorrow.

c 2007 Waterloo Public Library

Sunday, January 21, 2007

IM Reference Service Widget

The Waterloo Public Library Reference Department now offers, on a trial basis, reference services via Instant Messaging. If you have a question, type it into the window you'll see in the upper right hand corner of this blog.
Whenever the library is open and the reference desk is staffed, we'll try hard to get your questions answered. As time goes on, and we become more comfortable with the concept, we'll probably be adding other IM clients.

c 2007 Waterloo Public Library

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Hello USB Drives; Good-bye Floppies!

The end of the floppy disk drive era is rapidly approaching! For several months now, PAC users have seen signs on the monitors announcing the end of floppy drive support as of February 1, 2007.

The most popular floppy, the 3.5", has been on the market since 1987. And believe me, we regularly see patrons using heirloom diskettes that their grandmothers used in college when Ronald Reagan was President.

Even under the best circumstances, a floppy is highly vulnerable to environmental degradation. After a decade or two under the front seat of the car, or floating around in a purse, the magnetic media within the floppy's cover is damaged by dust, dampness, and static electricity. Their reliability in WPL PACs has been dismal. Patrons are annoyed by the loss of data; library staff are frustrated by damaged or failed drives.

We're well-prepared to make the change: Each of our PACs has front-accessible USB ports linked to a desktop shortcut. Usually, a flash drive will be automatically recognized within 30-60 seconds of insertion. Rarely, the drive will only be accessible via browsing with an application such as Word or Excel. In any case, the flash drives are more reliable, have greater capacity, and when the cost per megabyte is calculated, far more economical than the floppy.

The library plans to set up a floppy-to-flash drive transfer station for those of you who need to move files. Or, if you insist on continuing to use floppies, you may bring your own external USB floppy drive. External drives can be purchased either online, through catalogs, or at local discount stores. As of this moment, the library does not plan to sell flash drives. If there is enough popular demand, the Friends of the Library may be persuaded to add them to their FriendShop inventory.

If you're looking for a good deal on either flash or external floppy drives, keep an eye on the Sunday morning newspaper inserts. You'll find the flash drive to be a great advance over the floppy. Once you've made the move, you'll wonder why you waited!

c 2007 Waterloo Public Library

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