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!