Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Everyone's Talking About E-Books

With all the hype surrounding the Amazon Kindle, the Barnes and Noble Nook, and the Sony e-Reader, it's obvious that e-books are here to stay. But what if you don't have the cash to drop on a reader or the books themselves?

What if we told you that you could read "Drawings and Studies by Michelangelo", "Essential Computer Skills for Working Women", "Little Women", "Dracula", and hundreds of thousands of other books for free, from your computer? Most of the websites below offer multiple formats, versions for mobile phones, and versions that are easier for Text to Speech software. You can even find some free audio books on these sites.

Here are some of the best we've found so far:

E-Books Directory
-- "A daily growing list of freely downloadable ebooks, documents and lecture notes found all over the internet." Promote your own e-book, add comments to others, or just browse the directory. Some topics, like Children's Books, include audio books as well as standard e-books.

Online Books Page -- "Listing over 900,000 free books on the web." This site pulls together e-books from other websites to give you a single point to find titles. Includes prize winning books like Newbery Books and winners of the Nobel Prize in Literature or Pulitzer Prize in Letters; a section on books banned through the ages; and a celebration of women writers. Also includes a single point to find professional and academic journals with freely accessible archives online.

POWER Library's netLibrary allows you to read books both new and old on your computer screen. From the main POWER Library page, just click on the resource you want to use. Home users will need to type in your Pottsville library card number in order to use these databases.

Project Gutenberg -- 33,000 free books and counting from the first producer of free electronic books (e-books).

Read Easily -- This site provides books in formats where you can control the size of the text and color for those who need high-contrast pages, and the books are easily read by Text to Speech software for those who are blind or visually impaired.

For more sites that have free e-books, visit the Texas State Library and Archive Commission's Library Development blog post, "Free E-Books Are Here!" (Nov. 3, 2010)

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Depository Library Survey

Do you use the Pottsville Free Public Library to access federal government resources? If so, the Federal Depository Library Program (FDLP) wants to hear your opinion!

The 16-question survey focuses on depository access, services, and collections. Results of the survey will contribute to the extensive efforts by the Government Printing Office (GPO) to address the value of FDLP membership.

The survey will be administered using Survey Monkey and it will run through the end of December. Access the survey at <> .
All answers are kept confidential.

The Pottsville Free Public Library has been a member of the FDLP since 1967, and we provide access to both United States and Pennsylvania agency publications in print and online.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Genealogy Resources

Some people already know about the genealogy resources we have here at the Pottsville Free Public Library. But we thought we'd point out some of the newer additions in case you haven't visited our genealogy page at in a while.

We recently uploaded a revised, enlarged Pottsville Republican obituary list. This list is now close to 125,000 names! We have also updated our obituary list for the Shenandoah Evening Herald newspaper. It's not nearly as large, but might still be useful for some.

There is also a link on our genealogy page for the full text of Schalck's History of Schuylkill County, Vol. 2. (Vol. 1 is more history-oriented, and does not appear to be part of the online collection.) It is part of Google Books, so you cannot print directly from the page. But you can download the volume as a PDF file to save on your home computer.

A new print addition to our collection is the Schuylkill County, Pennsylvania Coroner's Inquest Records, Vol. One, covering records from 1811 (when Schuylkill officially became a county) until 1909. Entries give the date of the inquest, where it was held, the name of the deceased, the cause of death, and the coroner. We do not yet have an everyname index to this volume yet, but there is a last name index we can work from. If you've been trying to track someone down, maybe it's time to try this option!

And of course, any time you have questions about Schuylkill County genealogy, feel free to call or email us and ask away. If we don't have what you're seeking, we may be able to direct you to the correct office or society to help you out.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Help the Pottsville Library by Searching the Internet!

The Pottsville Free Public Library has joined GoodSearch, a project that gives a small donation to specified charities every time you do a search. GoodSearch has also teamed up with Amazon, eBay, and a few other retailers so that a percentage of your purchase from these sites, through GoodSearch, will go to your selected charity.

So how do you help Pottsville Library? First, go to the Pottsville Library's website at Then click on the box on our home page that says "GoodSearch". This will take you to the GoodSearch home page, and Pottsville Library is the selected charity for your Internet searches. The GoodSearch home page also lists some of the online retailers they work with.

Too many steps for you? You can also download a GoodSearch toolbar from their home page. Start at the Pottsville Library's site so the library is the selected charity, then follow the directions on the GoodSearch home page to download the toolbar (just scroll down from the search box that's at the top). The toolbar also provides direct links to Amazon and eBay so that your purchases can help the library.

So what does the library get out of it? Approximately 1 cent per search, and anywhere between .5% to 30% per purchase through a participating online store. You can see how much has been raised by clicking on the "Amount Raised" button on the GoodSearch home page.

Why are we doing this? Because this year, literally every penny counts. Budget cuts at the state, county, and local level mean we will be buying fewer books, DVDs, and CDs, may mean other cuts in services and maybe even cuts in hours. We need your help, and we need it now. This is just one small way you can help your local public library.

Thank you!!!

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Presidential Campaigns in Schuylkill County

How many presidential campaigns have made their way through Schuylkill County?

John F. Kennedy spoke in Garfield Square in Pottsville on October 28, 1960, gathering a crowd estimated at 12,000 people. His visit was followed almost immediately by the GOP Truth Squad, notable for flying in the first large-size commercial airliner ever to land at Joe Zerbey airport. Most people know about this visit, but other candidates have stumped in the county as well.

President Harry S. Truman was in Pottsville on October 21, 1952, traveling via an 18-car train and speaking at Veterans’ Memorial Stadium to a crowd of 8,000 shivering listeners. An editorial in the next day’s Pottsville Republican newspaper stated, “Schuylkill county people feel honored by the visit of President Truman last night even though a majority here cannot agree with him politically.” This was the first (and only) visit of a sitting President of the United States to Pottsville and Schuylkill County.

Richard Nixon visited Schuylkill County on October 24, 1968 to campaign. That same day, Edmund Muskie, vice presidential candidate on the ticket with Hubert Humphrey, also spoke to local voters.

Vice Presidents have also made the trip to the anthracite region.

Vice presidential candidate Lyndon B. Johnson visited Ashland, Frackville, St. Clair, and Pottsville on October 18, 1960 for the Democrats, while v. p. candidate Henry Cabot Lodge was in Pottsville and Shenandoah on November 4, 1960, campaigning for the Republican Nixon/Lodge ticket.

Vice President Dick Cheney spoke to 2,000 ticket holders at a Republican rally in Martz Hall in Pottsville on August 25, 2004. His visit was marked as much by the protests as by what he said to his supporters.

And don’t forget the former presidents campaigning for their parties.

Theodore “Teddy” Roosevelt visited Schuylkill County twice, October 26 and 28, 1914. On the 26th he “toured the county, stopping at the leading towns for five minute addresses and leaving his train in Pottsville for one hour to make an address in the Hippodrome.” His visit to Pottsville on the 28th was only a 10 minute speech given at the railroad station.

Then there was William “Bill” Clinton’s visit to the Girardville St. Patrick’s Day parade on March 29, 2008. An estimated 30,000 people were in town that day for the parade and his appearance, and it took him 2 ¼ hours to walk through the borough. He was campaigning for Hillary Clinton’s nomination as the Democratic presidential candidate.

Read more about these visits from newspaper clippings in the library’s Vertical File collection.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Online Resources from the Pottsville Library

Have you clicked on the "Online Resources" link on our homepage lately? Here you can find the link to the library's catalog, the POWER Library, the statewide reference service, authoritative health information, and an Internet subject guide created just for Schuylkill County users.

Salem Health and POWER Library are trust-worthy resources that you can use just by typing in your Pottsville Library card number.

Salem Health is an online database that covers two resources, Magill's Medical Guide and Salem Health: Cancer. Both of these reference books are in the Pottsville Library's Reference Department, and the online version is identical to the print. So if you have a late night medical question and want a reliable source to turn to, give the Salem Health site a try.

The POWER Library continues to provide online tools to users around the state. It includes Auto Repair Reference Center, which has repair information for car models going back to 1945; AP Images, which provides photographs and other graphics from today all the way back to the Gettysburg Address in 1863; Contemporary Authors, which provides information about writers and their books; and Readers' Guide Select, which covers 200 general interest magazines.

AskHere PA is a 24-hour, 7-days-a-week reference service that allows you to ask a reference librarian a question any time you need to. This service is provided by the state of Pennsylvania in cooperation with public and college libraries around the state.

The Subject Guide to the Internet was created by Pottsville Library reference librarians, based on questions we have received over the years for web sites for specific kinds of questions. Check out the "Consumer Information" section for great sites on evaluating charities, getting a (really) free copy of your credit report, or to find out if what the politicians are saying is really the truth. The "Government" section can help you find a specific federal or state agency, while local governments and tourism guides can be found in the "Regional Information" section.

Try these resources out, and as always, let us know if you have any questions!

Monday, April 26, 2010


Between Pottsville and Schuylkill Haven, on Route 61 between the Mount Carbon exit and Cressona Mall, there is a large painted red and white object, which has been a landmark since well before Pottsville was planned. It’s easily visible up on the steep hillside. It’s on private land and it is not recommended that anyone attempt to actually go up there.

In his book Black Rock: Mining Folklore of the Pennsylvania Dutch, (call number 398 K844) the author George Korson vaguely attempts to link the Indianhead Rock with a series of settler murders in the 1780s, committed according to legend by local indigenous residents.

What we know for certain about the rock is that in 1923 the Pottsville Chapter of the Afternoon Delphian Society, at that time under the leadership of Mrs. H. O. Bechtel, adopted the rock as a significant local landmark. The bushes surrounding the rock were cleared and a sign was erected on what was at that time Route 122 pointing out the existence of the rock high above the road. When the road was expanded the sign was removed, but the bushes mysteriously continued to be trimmed.

The rock has always been red, but it has been painted even redder over the years and the portion of the rock which might represent the feathered bonnet surrounding the face was painted white. There is no mention anywhere as to when the flag was erected just above the rock.

In addition to the book, there was an article written by Walter S. Farquhar in his regular column Editorial Musings, on April 9, 1956 in the Pottsville Republican. The article is titled “The Old Indian Profile.” He makes a big deal pointing out that there is no historical significance to the rock, except for its original booster, Mrs. Bechtel, and a series of intrepid painters are named. This article can be found in the Vertical File collection.

Follow this link for a picture of the rock formation:

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Spring Cleaning

Even libraries have to clean things up sometimes. Right now we're trying to clean up our website! While we have updated the information on the pages, the site itself is looking a bit dated. So we're trying to clean things up, spruce them up, and generally make our site more usable for our library patrons. If there's something you'd like to see on our site, please send us an email at and let us know!

Monday, March 29, 2010

April at the Pottsville Library

April means art month at the Pottsville Free Public Library! All this month, members of the Schuylkill County Allied Artists will be displaying their works around the library. Most of the artwork will be available to purchase, so here's your chance to add some original art from local artists to your collection.

Don't forget to join us for National Library Week, which is observed April 11th - 17th.

And later this month, we will be part of the 4th Annual Block of Art, which takes place in downtown Pottsville from April 23rd - 25th. Stores and galleries will be open to show local artists and celebrate the best Schuylkill County has to offer.

Need some help getting started on your own creative projects? Check out our collection of magazines and books for projects from wood to wool, cotton to cameras, or printing to painting, and get inspired to create your own art.

Happy art month to all!

Monday, March 8, 2010

netLibrary Book of the Month - Update and Apology

In the past we have pointed out the book-of-the-month in netLibrary (part of the POWER Library). A recent question had us trying to go back to a title from a previous month, and we discovered we could no longer access that title. Whoops! We didn't realize access was limited to just that month.

So we have deleted the previous netLibrary book-of-the-month posts from our blog. This doesn't mean that this feature is no longer available from netLibrary. If a title is really juicy we'll still blog about it. Just be aware that you may not be able to use that title after the end of the current month (so read quickly and take notes!).

There are still lots of titles in netLibrary that are available all year long, so we encourage you to visit it anyway. Just go to our website at, click on the POWER Library icon, and enter your Pottsville library card number. Select netLibrary, and away you go!

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Changes to POWER Library Line-up

The state budget crunch meant changes had to be made to the databases available through the POWER Library. These resources are available to anyone with a library card for their local Pennsylvania public library. If you have a Pottsville Library card, you can access these materials through our website at Just click on "POWER Library", enter your library card number, and then select the resource you want to use.

Some things haven't changed: the Auto Repair Reference Center, AP Images, Biography Reference Bank, Contemporary Authors, NoveList, SIRS Discoverer, netLibrary, and Consumer Health Complete are still available to Pennsylvania residents. (Some will go away in July, but we'll talk about those later.)

Gone are most of the EBSCO databases, such as MasterFILE Premier, MAS Online Plus, and a variety of other related magazine indexes. Also gone are the Oxford titles, such as the Grove Art and Grove Music resources, and the huge collection of Oxford Reference materials. The Poem Finder (and speech, short story, and other literature finder) was another budget victim.

To replace some of these lost treasures, residents now have access to several new titles. If you have any questions about using any of these resources, please contact the Pottsville Reference Department at or call us at 570-622-8880.

ABI/INFORM Trade & Industry -- articles about companies, executives, products, trends, and related topics. Most articles are full-text, so you can read them right from your computer.

InfoTrac Newsstand -- articles from over 1000 newspapers, including the Harrisburg Patriot-News, the Reading Eagle, and the Pottsville Republican-Herald. Full-text will vary with each title in the database.

OmniFile Mega -- articles from over 2500 magazines and journals, and citations and abstracts from 4000 journals. Appropriate for high school students and adults.

OmniFile Select -- all articles are full-text, from a wide variety of magazines and journals. Appropriate for high school students and adults.

Readers' Guide Select -- abstracts and full text articles from 200 magazines, appropriate for middle-school students and older.

Science Full Text Select -- full text articles from 360 science journals, appropriate for high school students and adults.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

The Library is now on Facebook!

Yes, we've taken that next step in Library 2.0 and set up our Facebook page. Become a fan and find out what's happening at the library. Eventually we'll be adding photos, events, and maybe even videos, and we'll also post weather-related closures if they happen. Just search for "Pottsville Library" next time you're in Facebook and join us!

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Upgrades and Updates

Every computer system needs periodic updates and upgrades, and library systems are no different. The Pottsville Free Public Library is in the process of upgrading both our circulation system (how books get checked out) and our catalog system (how you know what books we have). Please have patience with us and our systems during this transition period. Thank you!

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Sometimes It's Good to be Wrong

For years, genealogy researchers have asked us if there are any existing Sanborn fire insurance maps for communities in Schuylkill County. After doing a great deal of hunting and calling, we had to answer "not that we know of." I'm happy to say that we were wrong, and a chance alert has made it possible for us to pass on the information to you.

The Library of Congress Geography and Map Reading Room has a collection of Sanborn fire insurance maps for the entire country including parts of Schuylkill County. Some of these maps are available online, but it looks like most are only in print and must be used by researchers at the Library of Congress. Still, you can check the site to find out what years are available for which communities. Follow this link to view the list of Pennsylvania cities. It may be worth taking a trip to Washington, DC to use them!

Keep in mind that smaller communities were sometimes included in maps for larger communities; for instance, in 1891 a fire insurance map of Pottsville also included the communities of Minersville, Port Carbon, St. Clair, Orwigsburg, and Cressona.

You can get complete contact information on the contact page, including their Ask-A-Librarian feature.

If you know of any other reliable sources for Sanborn fire insurance maps, please let us know and we will spread the word!

Wednesday, January 13, 2010


The Pottsville Free Public Library subscribes to over 200 magazines, covering a wide range of topics and age levels. Today we’d like to point out some titles you may know, and others that you may want to know, and they can all be found in our collection.

Magazines for Libraries calls National Review “the most important American conservative magazine”. Published every two weeks, this magazine provides articles focusing on politics, policy and economics, both in the United States and around the world. It also features a section called “Books, Arts & Manners”. In the Dec. 31, 2009 issue, this section included an article about Arthur Conan Doyle and Sherlock Holmes, “The Eternal Detective”.

If conservative isn’t your style, take a peek at The Nation, which is definitely more left-wing. Articles might cover political and cultural activism, climate change, world events, or many other topics. Like its conservative counterpart, there is also a “Books & the Arts” section.

If alternative press is more your thing, we carry Utne Reader. Calling itself “The Best of the Alternative Press,” this title carries reprinted articles from a wide variety of other publications, usually grouped around one or more themes in each issue. Stories in the Jan./Feb. 2010 issue come from such sources as The New Republic, The Chronicle of Higher Education, Science News, and Journal of Music.

One of our newest titles has an irresistable subtitle: Mental Floss: Feel Smart Again. This magazine features short articles on such enticing topics as “Famous People with Famously Bad Tempers”, “Crazy Smart: 11 Acts of Genius, Ripped from the Tabloids”, or “The End of Disease” (all about the use of bugs to cure what ails you).

So feel smart, feel educated, feel informed, … all at the library!

Monday, January 4, 2010

New Year's Resolutions

For many people, January 1 starts the same way every year: a resolution to lose weight, find a new job, quit smoking, spend more time with family or friends, or one of many other popular changes. Whatever you resolved to do in 2010, the Pottsville Free Public Library can help you achieve it!

Check out MayoClinic's Healthy Living section for tips on healthy weight loss, ways to quit smoking, or how to manage your stress. MedlinePlus has an entire section just on weight control, which is about more than just eating less food. You can also borrow books from the Pottsville Library about specific diets, recipes for a wide variety of health issues, and strategies for other life changes.

Spend more time with your family by picking out books to read together, or movies to watch together, from the variety offered at the Pottsville Library. The Children's Room often has Family Nights with programs the whole family can attend.

Use the library's Internet computers to locate a new job in your area of interest, or create a new resume using the Microsoft Word software and laser printer here at the library. Know someone who doesn't know an email from a Facebook page? We offer basic computer classes for free, covering such topics as how to use a mouse, how to save a file, and how to search the Internet.

Above all, let the library help you spend less money! Books, DVDs, CDs, and magazines can all be borrowed for free with a valid library card: you can't find a better bargain than that!

Happy New Year to all!