MCL Blogs

The default blog for all Library Blog Posts.

The IRS is now accepting tax returns until April 15, and the tax software choices for e-filing are numerous.  Have you asked yourself, “Aren’t they all the same?”  If you’re feeling overwhelmed by the choices, here are several web sites that compare features of various tax software products to help make an informed decision of where to turn next. 

Reviews.com has gathered a list of 19 online tax software products and chose 6 leading products to review based on 67 features.  They also include a discussion on which online tax software features matter the most, and why?  TaxSoftware.net has reviewed their top 5 online tax software products, comparing the costs and benefits of each.  top10taxsoftware.com lists their selections for the Top 10 Best Tax Software products, along with informative articles like “10 Tips for Choosing Tax Software”.

There are many other web sites that provide information and reviews for online tax software, but the sites mentioned above can be a great starting place.  I found them to be very helpful guides to making a decision on which product to use, and hope you do to!

Happy Tax Season!

February is Black History Month and there are five exciting events happening at MCL to help celebrate.

Music and dance are important aspects of Black culture and there are many opportunities this month to experience traditional African dance. If you are in SE, head over to Midland Library and participate in the West African Dance series with Habiba. Students will learn the origin, technique, and purpose of the dances and corresponding rhythm. Featuring traditional African vocal music, call and response style songs, and drumming from Ghana, Senegal, and Guinea, classes begin this Thursday February 13, 2014 @3:30PM, and continue for five weeks. 

More interested in watching than participating? Visit Troutdale Library in East County, to see the Mathias Galley African Dance Ensemble on Sunday February 16, 2014 @ 2PM. Mathias will perform a ceremonial African flower dance that is used during weddings, births, and holidays. If you missed the amazing drumming from Shi Dah at the beginning of the month at Midland Library, you still have one more chance to catch them. The group will be drumming at Kenton Library on Saturday February 22, 2014 @ 3PM. Shi Dah performs Ghanaian drumming, dance, songs, and rhythms.

North Portland Library hosts a unique program from Portland based artist Damaris Webb for teens and adults that explores what is means to be black. "Box Marked Black" explores challenging questions: Is it the shade of your skin? The kink of your hair? Where you grew up? Is it learned? What is its language, both in the body and on the tongue? See the performance and join the conversation on Sunday February 23, 2014 @ 2PM. 

If you are looking to do research in honor of Black History Month, be sure to access the Black Resources Collection at North Portland Library. The Collection offers more than 7,000 items—books, film, periodicals, music, and more—relating to the African American experience. One of the Collection’s special features is the Fisk University collection  which contains reprints from the Fisk University Library Negro Collection. These reprints are historical works written by and about African Americans between 1800 and 1930. Michael Powell of Powell’s Books donated these volumes.

Want history with a more local focus? Central Library presents “Who is York” on Sunday February 16, 2014 @ 2PM. York, slave to William Clark and comrade on the Lewis and Clark Expedition, was an unofficial member of the Corps of Discovery, and has been omitted from many historical accounts of this journey.

At the library we see every day as an opportunity to celebrate Black history and the culture, and this happens weekly with our Black Storytime for children and their parents/caregivers. Join us Saturdays at North Portland library (10:30) or Midland Library (11:30)  as we sing, read, dance, and play!

 

Father of the Blues, An Autobiography, by W. C. Handy. Collier Books, Macmillan, c. 1941.

"In the meantime, I had occasion to recall my first experience with a talking machine. That had been back in Helena, Montana, in 1897. I had made a record with my minstrel band on an old cylinder machine, funny contraption, that old affair. To hear the recording you had to place two rubber tubes in your ears. Each record began with a spoken announcement much like the radio announcer's lines today. Before we played, the announcer spoke into a horn and said, "You will now hear Cotton Blossoms as played by Mahara's Minstrel Band on Edison records." After playing our number, each one of us was permitted to put the rubber tubes in his ears and thus listen to ourselves. Other music lovers who wished to hear the record had to pay five cents for the privilege." - from Father of the Blues, An Autobiography, by W. C. Handy. Collier Books, Macmillan, c. 1941. p. 179

William Christopher Handy was one of the earliest members of ASCAP, and self-published his compositions throughout his life, including a span of years up to 1921 in partnership with Harry Pace, a songwriter and music publisher. After he died in 1958, his family took over the Handy Bros. Music Company, maintained at present by his grandchildren: Handy Brothers Music Company. The version shown here of "The St. Louis Blues" was published in 1914, and sold at Meier and Frank in downtown Portland, that offered an entire department just of sheet music for local musicians.

On April 5, 2014, the Multnomah Youth Commission held the 3rd Annual Rob Ingram Youth Summit Against Violence at the Ambridge Event Center (1333 NE MLK Jr. Blvd).

Youth Summit Against Violence photo

The youth-planned, youth-led event featured in-depth exploration of school, gang/police, and dating/sexual violence.

Multnomah County Library supports the summit's goals and has compiled these resources:

 

 

 

Dorothea Lange: A Life Beyond Limits bookcover

Dorothea Lange : a life beyond limits / Linda Gordon. London ; New York : W.W. Norton & Co., c2009.
A fascinating book of the stories behind Dorothea Lange's powerful photographs.
Scene 3, excerpt:
"We found our way in, slid in on the edges. The people who are garrulous and tell you everything, that's one kind of person, but the fellow who's hiding behind a tree, is the fellow that you'd better find out why. So often it's just sticking around, not swooping in and swooping out in a cloud of dust; sitting down on the ground with people, letting the children look at your camera with their dirty, grimy little hands, and putting their fingers on the lens, and you let them, because you know that if you will behave in a generous manner, you're very apt to receive it. I don't mean to say that I did that all the time, but I have done it, and I have asked for a drink of water and taken a long time to drink it, and have told everything about myself long before I asked any question. 'What are you doing here?' they'd say. 'What do you want to take pictures of us for?' I've taken a long time to explain, and as truthfully as I could. They knew that you are telling the truth."  - Dorothea Lange [p. 191-192]

Listen!

 

Stellar Blue Jay

Chirp chirp. Tweet. Awk! Caw, caw. Skree, skree, skree-chip!

   Blue Heron on a fence

Even in the city, birdsong is all around us. We call it “birdsong,” but why do they sing? Why do birds make those noises?

Well, why do people sing and make noise? Sometimes we sing for fun and from joy, and maybe birds do too. But a lot of the time we humans make sounds in order to communicate with each other. It turns out that birds are doing that, too. Other birds understand them. Sometimes other animals understand them, too!

I was amazed when I took a class at Metro and discovered that humans can learn to understand a little bit of bird language. It’s like there was a secret code going on all around me, and I never even noticed it. But now sometimes I can crack the code. I can tell when a mated pair of birds is telling each other “I’m over here -- I’m safe!” and “I’m over here -- Me too!” Sometimes the birds alert me that there is a predator nearby -- or that they are worried because I’m nearby.

Birds pay attention to everything going on around them. Paying attention to birds is a great way to get an insider’s view into some of the secrets of your local ecosystem.

Crow on Portland water fountian

Want to learn more about birds, their language or their place in our local ecosystem? Take a look at OPB’s Field Guide videos; visit a local park and take a walk with a naturalist; ask a librarian or check out some of the great books below.

Profile picture, ReadWomen2014When writer and artist Joanna Walsh created a set of women author bookmarks she was surprised by the positive response from friends. In a Buzzfeed article, "#ReadWomen2014 Aims To Bring Gender Equality To The Literary World" Walsh said, "the bookmarks were created because I’d been too lazy to send Christmas cards, and was shamed into it by the beautiful cards I was sent, especially by illustrator friends.” As her project gained fans, she went on to create a twitter hashtag, #ReadWomen2014, to promote a year of reading women authors.

Since Walsh published her original list, many people have added their own spin to #ReadWomen2014. Here at Multnomah County Library, we decided to make a list with a selection of Northwest women authors, and Laural, a librarian here, created a list of women who create comics. Whose on your list?

 

 

In the past few weeks, these new books about photography arrived on the shelves at Central Library, each with a different emphasis for a particular group of photographers. Link to the titles below to place holds for delivery to your closest branch of the Multnomah County Library system.

Michael Freeman's PhotoSchool Fundamentals
This guidebook has an unusual format: it is organized much like a book version of an online class. The author introduces a group of people with a range of skills in photography, who try out the experiments with exposure, lighting, composition, and editing that the author presents.  The reader is invited to participate as well in each of the assignments and follow along with comments by the "class" and Michael Freeman, to learn how to capture image effects in a variety of conditions. Written in a conversational style, this book strikes a good balance between images and text, and is useful for anyone wanting to learn more about how to use a digital camera. Follow along in sequential fashion, or skip around among the topics, though the book has a basic direction from basic to more advanced.

 

 

Monochromatic HDR Photography by Harold Davis Focal Press bookcoverMonochromatic HDR Photography : Shooting and Processing Black & White High Dynamic Range Photos.
"The best way to consider the shapes in your composition is to abstract them from the nature of the subject matter. You can use your camera's in-camera black and white capabilities to pre-visualize with lines and shapes. When the color is removed, do the shapes work just as a mass of tonalities or does there seem to be a defined structure? Think of yourself as an abstract expressionist painter rather than a photographer, and imagine the dark and light strokes that would make up your composition as you frame it in your camera. Thinking this way, you'll soon get the gist of composing creative digital monochromiatic images."  - Harold Davis in Monochromatic HDR Photography.


The Handbook of Bird Photography
This book is for people whose interests in wildlife photography take them far beyond the two titles described above, in terms of preparation for photography, equipment, and knowledge of the ecology of bird species. It covers technical aspects of close-up photography in a wide range of light and weather conditions. Mostly a book of graphics, the photographs of birds include notes about camera models, settings, and other equipment used. This book is well worth reading for specialists; but at a more basic level both interesting and instructive for people who want to take better photographs in their immediate surroundings.


Surreal Photography: Creating the Impossible
The first premise of the book Surreal Photography is to have a concept of the surreal: "It might help to think of the process of creating a surreal image as a recipe: here is what you want to create, these are the things that you will need to achieve it, and these are the steps you will need to take in the process." The author applies this basic formula to the construction of surreal images, that may be the outcome of happy accidents, use of camera controls, or by editing with computer software. Chapters cover an array of techniques and equipment, ranging from cameraphones through DSLR cameras available as of the publication date of 2013. Use as a springboard for adding skills with image effects. Find more books on this approach to photography by searching using the phrase Alternative Photographic Processes in the Multnomah County Library catalog.


Color: A Photographer's Guide to Directing the Eye, Creating Visual Depth, and Conveying Emotion
Written by a photographer and teacher who is excited by the limitless possibilities of his subject, this book explains how to take advantage of a range of light conditions and time of day to take compelling photographs. The many images include exposure settings, lenses used, and written descriptions on a range of themes, such as sky, water, portraits and crowd scenes. A final chapter about black and white photography provides interesting comparisons between color originals and black/white versions of images for the strengths of each interpretation.

 


 

Coraline Blu-rayMultnomah County Library now offers Blu-ray Discs for check-out. You can find a complete list by searching bluray as a keyword in My MCL. You can check out a combined total of 15 DVDs and Blu-ray Discs.

Blu-ray Discs are different from DVDs:

  • You will need a Blu-ray player or a computer with a Blu-ray drive to watch a Blu-ray Disc. Some game consoles (e.g. Xbox One, PS3 and PS4) support Blu-ray discs as well. Blu-ray Discs will not play in a DVD player.
  • Blu-rays are a high-definition (HD) format, but you must be using HDTV or a HD monitor to watch in HD. Blu-rays can be viewed on a conventional monitor, but quality will not be high-definition.

Are you looking for a specific title, but you can't find it? Ask the Librarian.

Do you own a small-business? One of the best ways to get tax information and help for your small business is by visiting the IRS Small Business Tax Center where you can learn everything from how to get an Employer Identification Number (EIN) online to how to best navigate an audit.

You can also call the IRS Business & Specialty Toll Free number at 1-800-829-4933, open Monday – Friday, 7:00 am – 7:00 pm.

The IRS began accepting 2013 business tax returns on Monday, January 13, 2014. This start date applies to both electronically-filed and paper-filed returns. The only exception is Form 1041 for Estates and Trusts, which cannot be filed until January 31. More information can be found in the IRS’ press release titled “Starting Jan. 13, 2014, Business Tax Filers Can File 2013 Returns.”

Once again, the library is here to help small businesses, so go ahead and contact us!

Old maps are more than just geographical information presented in an appealing visual format – antique maps tell us about changes in the landscape, for sure, but they also inform us about the human past.  After all, maps are made by people, produced within specific cultural frameworks.

A new study of a 9,000-year old mural in the Turkish archaeological site Çatalhöyük argues that it is, in fact, the world's oldest map, and that it shows an eruption of the nearby volcano Hasan Dağı in progress. (The study offers evidence that Hasan Dağı did actually erupt around the time that the mural was created.) If news of this development has you thinking about old and antique maps, you're in luck! Multnomah County Library has a wide array of books about the history of maps, many with beautiful and thought-provoking reproductions and illustrations.  Take a look at the reading list below for a few of my personal favorites.

Detail of the map of the moon, from the Hand Atlas.Remember, also, that Multnomah County Library actually owns a lot of maps!  Most of the library's oldest maps are kept at Central Library, either in the map collection in the Literature & History room (on the third floor), or in the John Wilson Special Collections.  Most older maps, are of course, reference items that cannot be checked out of the library – but there's plenty of room to enjoy them at Central Library!  Here are a few gems:

One of my favorite old maps in the library's collection is the 1896 Hand Atlas über alle Theile der Erde und über das Weltgebäude.  That's a big, long German title, and indeed, the entire atlas is in German!  But maps are visual things, and even if the place names are in an unfamiliar language, this world atlas is both useful and beautiful – particularly if you're interested in seeing a snapshot of national borders in the 1890s.  The image here is from the very beginning of the atlas, in the section of maps of heavenly bodies.  This one, I'm sure you can see, is of the moon.

Detail of sheet 27, which includes the city of Seaside, Metkser's Atlas of Clatsop County, 1930.Moving forward a bit in time, here's a snippet of one of the property ownership maps in the Metsker Atlas of Clatsop County – it's sheet 27 of the 1930 atlas, showing the town of Seaside.  The library has a large collection of atlases published by the Metsker Co., covering all of Oregon's 36 counties (plus a few Metsker atlases of Washington counties that are near the Portland area). Most of the Metsker atlases were published from the 1920s to the 1970s. They contain lovely, detailed maps showing street names and subdivision names -- often this is interesting, particularly when you look at an older map and can see big changes like the neighborhoods that were present before a freeway was built, or farm and forest land where there is now an urban area.  Larger parcels of land are marked with the owner's name too, which can be most illuminating.

"Car Lines in the Business District, Showing Downtown Loops," from Byington's New Nonpareil Guide to Portland, 1944.One great place to look for charming little maps is in the pages of now-out-of-date travel guidebooks, and the library has plenty of examples!  The cutie to the left shows the streetcar lines, trolley car lines ("trolley car" is an old term for an electric bus), and motor coaches (early 20th century-speak for a gasoline- or diesel-powered bus) in downtown Portland, circa 1944.  The map is from Byington's New Nonpareil Guide to Portland.

Detail of "London: from 1800 to 1900," from the Mapbook of English Literature.But the library's collection is not limited to maps showing landforms, details for tourists, and property information.  For a different sort of map entirely, take a peek at the lovely Mapbook of English Literature, an elegantly-drawn collection of maps illustrating important literary-geographical connections.  The section of the London map at right, which features literary facts from 1800-1900, shows details from the world of fiction: "The Quips (Dickens's Old Curiosity Shop, 1840-41) lived here;" and biographical bits and pieces about English authors: "Keats was a student here (1815-16) Guy's Hospital."

Do you have a favorite map, or a favorite book about maps?  Share them!

And of course, if you've got a question about maps, the library's collection about maps, or anything else, there's a friendly librarian who'd love to help you!  Just get in touch using Ask the Libarian, or ask at the information desk the next time you're at the library.

 

If you have already broken those New Year's resolutions, you have another chance.  
This Friday, January 31st, marks the beginning of the Chinese Lunar New Year. There are twelve animals and five elements in the Chinese zodiac and 2014 is the year of the Wooden Horse,
sometimes called the Green Horse.  For each of the animals, there are certain qualities, which are passed to the persons born under that sign.  Those born in horse years are said to be cheerful, enthusiastic, and enjoy making new friends. To find out what your zodiac animal is, take a look at this chart:

Celebrations for the Chinese New Year include dragon and lion dances, fireworks, the giving of red envelopes, and sweet treats, culminating in a lantern festival. The Lunar New Year will be celebrated at Gregory Heights and Midland Libraries with various cultural performances.  Holgate Library will be hosting Tales from the Year of the Horse. The library will also have a table at the Oregon Convention Center, Saturday February 1, for the Chinese New Year Cultural Fair. If you're there, stop by and say hello!

 

When you work on a research project about historical India, you may want to add a map. You can judge a good map by how well it tells information. Here is a checklist of what makes a good historical map:

  • Does it have a title or legend?
  • Is the scale OK so that you can see all the points of interest?
  • Does it have the name of the map creator, source and date?

Here's a map of India from 1700-1792.

Map of India 1700-1792

Historical India Maps

The University of Texas at Austin has a great site of online maps, including a map of India, 1700-1792 from The Historical Atlas and a map of India, 1760 from The Public Schools Historical Atlas.

There are maps from the 1800s, including this map of India, 1882 from A Dictionary Practical, Theoretical, and Historical of Commerce and Commercial Navigation.

Here's a map of British India, 1860.

Present Day Maps

The CIA - Central Intelligence Agency -- has great regional and world maps. Check out this map of India.

Interested in learning more? Ask a librarian!

Guest Blog Post by Janet Hawkins, Community Action Coordinator, Department of County Human ServicesTax Filing Services Can Save You Big $

It's tax time again!  And lots of consumers go into the marketplace looking for commercial tax preparation services or expensive on-line software for completing their tax forms. Unfortunately, it’s definitely a buyer beware situation out there. 

Don’t pay for expensive tax preparation software you may not need. The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) offers free tax preparation software to individuals whose income is less than $58,000. Visit the IRS website at irs.gov to learn more about accessing the brand-name software that can be downloaded for e-filing. 

Be sure to avoid tax preparation companies that charge high fees or emphasize predatory tax refund offers. The National Consumer Law Center’s “2013 Report on Tax-Time Financial Products” reports that over 80% of American households receive a tax refund when they file their tax returns. This high refund rate has generated an industry geared toward taking advantage of low-income, working households. Many tax preparation companies have developed financial products like “refund anticipation” checks or loans as well as tax refund buying schemes to prey upon taxpayers who need immediate cash. Fees or interest charges for these financial services or products, which are typically deducted from the taxpayer’s refund, may end up costing hundreds of dollars.     

The National Consumer Law Center report also documents classic “bait and switch” practices like the company that charged twice as much for their services as had been advertised to consumers. Households with bank accounts are much better off to forgo the refund anticipation checks or refund buying schemes and wait for the IRS to electronically deposit their tax refund. The IRS refunds normally take only 21 days or less from the date of e-filing your tax return. 

What’s a taxpayer to do?  There are two reliable options for receiving free tax assistance in Multnomah County.

  • CASH Oregon is a non-profit organization that provides free tax assistance to consumers.  Worried about quality?  Their volunteer tax preparers are IRS trained and certified.  Visit their website to learn more: www.cashoregon.org
  • AARP Tax-Aide serves people of all ages.  They have a contract with IRS to provide tax preparation services in library branches, community centers, and other locations. Their volunteer preparers are also IRS trained and certified.  Call AARP at 1-888-227-7669 to find a free tax preparation site near you or visit www.aarp.org/money/taxes/aarp_taxaide to learn more.

Need more information on local tax preparation resources?  Contact 211info, a local information and referral service, by calling 2-1-1. 211’s staff can provide more details on local services.

 

Library Borrowers Make the Best Volunteers

by Mindy Moreland

Picture of Karen Hein

In the summer of 1971, Karen Hein was visiting the Rockwood Library when a sign on the wall caught her eye and changed the course of her life. “Library Borrowers Make the Best Employees,” the poster read. Karen, an avid lover of libraries, thought that this was well worth investigating. Soon after, she was hired on as a clerk at Rockwood (where, she recalls, she earned the princely sum of $1.95 per hour), and so began a 34-year career with Multnomah County Library.  

As she moved up the responsibility ladder,  from branch to branch, Karen served countless patrons and bore witness to the library’s transition into the digital age. She remembers composing seemingly endless lists of children’s books on a typewriter at Central, tells of the delight of a colleague upon successfully transferring files to a (truly floppy) disk for the first time, and remembers overseeing Gresham’s first public internet computers. Today she appreciates the ease with which holds can be processed thanks to RFID, and is exploring the world of digital audiobooks on her iPad.

 

"It's a very comfortable place for me to be. I feel at home."Karen retired as a supervisor from the Gresham branch in October 2005, but that was only one more turning point in her journey with the library, rather than the story’s end. She presently volunteers as a Branch Assistant, and continues to enjoy watching the library grow and change around her.

Although the Gresham branch is Karen’s neighborhood library, she makes a weekly journey to Central, where she spent the lion’s share of her career, to process holds and catch up with former colleagues. Coming to Central lets her take regular advantage of downtown Portland’s shops, movie theaters, and restaurants. A window table at Jake’s Grill is a favorite for a leisurely lunch, though she still mourns the passing of the august Georgian Room at Meier and Frank’s.  

Karen even speaks of the Central building itself like an old friend, fondly recalling hot summer days in the early 1990s before the building underwent renovation, when she could open the Popular Library’s tree-shaded windows to let in a cool breeze. And after so many years together, it seems only natural to drop in weekly to catch up. Karen says that while she understands that many people might find it a bit strange to volunteer at their former place of employment, she’s pleased to have the opportunity to stay involved with a place and an institution she enjoys.

“I like the atmosphere,” Karen says with a smile. “It’s a very comfortable place for me to be. I feel at home.” It seems that Library Borrowers do indeed make the Best Employees … and the Best Volunteers, too.

A Few Facts About Karen

Home library: Gresham Library

Currently reading: The Well-Read Cat by Michèle Sacquin

Most influential book: Into Thin Air by John Krakauer

Favorite book from childhood: Any horse stories by Marguerite Henry

Favorite section of the library: Periodicals

E-reader or paper book? Paper book

Favorite reading guilty pleasure: Rex Stout’s Nero Wolfe mysteries on audiobook

Favorite place to read: In bed

See last month's Volunteer Spotlight.

While the Better Business Bureau recommends donors avoid any charity spending less than 65 percent of their money on their charitable mission, a small but persistent group of charities continue to spend most of their money on fundraising and administration. A groundbreaking new law passed in Oregon in 2013, one aimed at protecting donors from charities that spend too little on their charitable programs and services. House Bill 2060 eliminates the state income tax deduction for donors who give money to charities that fail to spend at least 30 percent of their donations on their charitable mission. For charities that spend more than 70 percent of donations on management and fundraising, Oregonians who donate to them cannot not take state income-tax deductions on those gifts.

The Nonprofit Association of Oregon has compiled a list of Frequently Asked Questions for nonprofit organizations regarding the new law and The Oregon Attorney General's office compiles an annual list of the 20 Worst Charities that are registered to do business in Oregon. To find out how much of your donation will go to a charity’s actual purpose, search the Oregon Department of Justice's database of registered charities.

Multnomah County Library subscribes to Guidestar, a database available at the Central Library that provides information on programs and finances of charities and nonprofits. Need help finding information on your favorite charity? Librarians are happy to help!

 

Two women at the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel operating tickers and stock exchange boards, December 11, 1918.Tracking down a historic stock price can be really easy... except when it’s really hard. And it is a common question that we get during tax season.

Here is an example of an easy stock price search.

1. A stock price is needed for a company for a particular date. (Let’s say Nike on February 13, 2009.)
2. You go to a website with financial information (like Yahoo! Finance or Wall St. Journal’s MarketWatch), search for the company name or ticker symbol, and voila! You have the closing price for that day. (Keep in mind that the closing price may or may not already be adjusted.)

But this only works if the company is still in business and hasn’t changed names, hasn’t been involved in a merger or acquisition, and is still trading on the stock exchange under the same ticker symbol. If any of those situations have occurred, the historic price that you need might not be available online.

Take, for example, Macy’s, which went public in 1922 under the name R.H. Macy, and which for many years traded under the symbol MZ. You won’t easily find historic stock prices from before 1992 for this company on Yahoo! Finance or in other online databases because on that year Macy’s merged with Federated Department Stores. (Thanks to New York Public Library for this example!)

Steps for trickier stock price searches.

So how does someone get a historic stock price from before 1992 for Macy’s, or for any other company whose historic prices aren’t online? There are two steps: first, researching the company history to find out any information about different names, ticker symbols, and listings on stock exchanges; and second, looking in a newspaper or newspaper database for the date that you need. The library can help you with both of these steps.

Step 1: Research the company history.

This step can require a little detective work. It is where you figure out the name and ticker symbol of the company or security at the time of the historic price and the stock exchange which it was trading on. Here are several sources that the library offers for learning about a company’s history (you may need to look at more than one of them in order to get a full sense of a company’s history):

  • Capital Changes Reporter: Lists capital changes (such as mergers and splits) for companies, by date, and includes information about stock exchanges and ticker symbols that the company traded under. Available in print in the Science & Business room at Central Library, or online through the CCH Intelliconnect database.
  • International Directory of Company Histories: Provides detailed corporate histories for many companies, both U.S. and international. There are currently 149 volumes. Available in print in the Science & Business room at Central Library.
  • Mergent Intellect: Available through the library website. A database with lots of information about companies, including company histories.
  • Directory of Obsolete Securities: Lists and gives brief info for companies and banks whose original identities have been lost to events like changes in name, acquisitions, mergers, or bankruptcy. Available in print in the Science & Business room at Central Library.
  • EDGAR: This is not a library resource, but it is freely available online through the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), and we can help you if you have trouble using it! It contains many documents that public companies are required to submit to the SEC, including company reports.

Step 2: Look up the historic price in a newspaper or other source from that historic date.

Once you have done some research about the company whose historic stock price you are looking for (and hopefully learned their name, ticker symbol, and the stock exchange they were traded on at the time of the historic price), you are ready to find the stock price in a newspaper or other source from that time. Note that you’ll want to look at a newspaper or publication for the day immediately after the date for which you need the historic price, since the price would not have been published until the next day’s paper. Here are two sources for this, both of which are available electronically through the library website:

  • New York Times Historical (1851-2009): Contains scans of articles from the New York Times, including stock prices. Choose “Advanced Search,” enter the date that you are looking for in the “Publication Date” section, and choose “Stock quote” from the “Document Type” menu. Leave the other search boxes blank, and do your search. You will retrieve a list of articles containing stock prices - to find the major stock exchanges, choose the articles with the most page numbers, then look in them for the company whose stock price you need.
  • The Historical Oregonian (1861-1987): This database will be most useful for stock prices of companies from the Pacific Northwest. Enter the date you are looking for in the “Custom Date Range” box, and then do a search for a word like NYSE or NASDAQ which would appear on the page with stock prices.

In addition to these electronic databases for the New York Times and the Oregonian, the library also has a number of useful resources available in print and on microfilm at Central Library:

So there you have the basic steps for finding historic stock prices. It can indeed be a little bit of a research project sometimes. But don’t despair! Librarians are happy to talk to you about your particular stock price need, and to help you find the information you are looking for. Just get in touch with us using one of the methods on our Contact a librarian webpage. Happy stock price searching!

Math in basketball, special effects and music? Why, yes! Discover algebra uses in the real world so you don't have to ask, "Why do I need to know this?" Back in high school, I regularly asked my Algebra teacher that question. Maybe you've asked this same question to your teacher. Luckily, there are a number of great Web sites that explain real world math in action. Get the Math does just that. In reality TV challenge style, teams of teens must solve a real world math problem presented to them by rising stars in their fields. 

Get the Math website screen shot.

Musical duo DobleFlo share how they use math to create hip-hop music. Fashion designer and winner of season two of Project Runway, Chloe Doe, illustrates how math helps her design drawings to become fashion reality. And did you know math is the secret behind a perfect free thow? Basketball star, Elton Brand, shows his challenge team how. In addition to these challenges, the six teams work to properly price guacemole on a restaurant menu, create the perfect special effect explosion and build a popular online video game. 

Screen shot of CyberChase website.

This online pre-algebra companion to PBS Kids' Cyberchase show explains real world uses of algebra with fun, animated and live action videos.  How does the super sleuth CyberSquad foil the Hacker trying to take over Cyberspace? Using math, of course!

But how does Algebra help me right now? I'm a librarian, not a fashion designer or a dubious hacker. Snowboarding! Did you know it uses real world algebra? Last winter I took my first snowboarding lessons and learned to link my turns (yay!) Now, this year, I plan to move off the bunny hill and onto longer runs, but I'm nervous of going too fast down the slopes. How fast am I going down a run? I watched this snowboarding on slopes video to figure this out:

 

Recently Livemocha discontinued its service to libraries. The site lives on at livemocha.com but we no longer are able to offer free access to the higher-level lessons.

Are you looking for a new online resource for your intermediate or advanced language learning? 

You may want to look again at Mango, which you can access through our site with your library card. While many languages only have ‘Basic’ courses — introductions to common words and phrases — more and more include ‘Complete’ courses, with in-depth and comprehensive language and grammar exercises. Click on a languages to find out what is available. Yes, the popular languages of French and Spanish include the Complete option, but so do the not-so-widely studied languages of Farsi and Norwegian, so it is always worth checking your language of interest! There is also a Mango app that you can find in iTunes and Google Play. The app is convenient and fun, but does not offer the full range of Mango’s offerings.


Open Culture - Learn 46 languages

Many web sites include impressively advanced and helpful language learning resources. For a high-quality list of sites and podcasts by language, check out Open Culture’s Learn 46 Languages Online for Free.’ 

Looking for more, or for a language that is not listed there? Ask us, we can help!

Greek and Roman history are subjects that continue to captivate our interests. A large part of this has to do with how much they influence our daily lives in literature, architecture, recreation, government, philosophy, and much, much more.

Even though there are remnants in today’s life, in comparison, life is very different than it used to be. Hour-long baths, arranged marriages, and having your father manage all your business until you are 25-years-old, are just some of the things that were customary then.  Would you be ready for public speaking or to lead an army when you turn 17 like this young adult living in Rome in 73 A.D.?

Life was exciting living in the Roman Empire with gladiators, chariot races, and exotic bath houses. It was a time that gave us great leaders such as Augustus, Nero, Julius Caesar, and Claudius. If you were a Roman leader, who would you most resemble?

There are some similarities to what life was like in Greece and Rome, but still, things were varied. Life could be very different even in places as close as Athens and Sparta. Depending on where you were born, and whether you were a boy or a girl, you could have a very different experience from those youth close by. Play this game from The British Museum that allows you compare the lives of both men and women from these two Greek cities, and learn more about daily life in ancient Greece. Be sure to take the Greek “house challenge” to see where you would find men and women hanging out, and doing what, under the same roof.

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