Monday, August 31, 2009

Shmoop is Just In Time for the Start of School!

So, what is this Shmoop thing?
This site is a pretty amazing, easily accessible, often entertaining yet not fluffy, resource that appears aimed at middle to high school (or above?) students. So far there are six categories to tap into: Literature, U.S. History, Poetry, Bestsellers, Civics, & Biography

According to their About Page: "Shmoop will make you a better lover (of literature, history, life). See many sides to the argument. Find your writing groove. Understand how lit and history are relevant today. We want to show your brain a good time.

Our mission: To make learning and writing more fun and relevant for students in the digital age."

For example, if you (or anyone near and dear to you) has been bitten by the Twilight bat be sure to check out the "Bestsellers" tab for more than you could ever want to know (into, summary, themes, quotes, study questions, characters, literary devices, did you know?, best of the web, & opinions) about this novel.

Schmoop is free to use but signing up for an account (also free) lets you have access to cool stuff like stickies, outlines, clippings, folders, sharing, citing, etc.

Who or what is behind Shmoop?

From the Schmoop for Professors, Teachers, & Librarians page:

"Shmoop is a labor of love from people who love to teach. Ph.D. and Masters students from top universities (including Stanford, U.C. Berkeley, Harvard, and Yale) have spent sleepless nights dreaming up Shmoop.

We love literature, history, and poetry and we want to help you use today's technology and culture to bring these subjects to life for students."

Miss Bun just loves the Schmoop teaching philosophy....especially the part where they vow to "convince students "why they should care" about each topic we cover". (A valid question often heard falling from the lips of long suffering students!)

FYI: There are some obvious commercial tie-ins to be found on this site but the benefits far outweigh the negatives.

Oh, and check out the Shmoop blog and their social networking opportunites too!

Friday, August 28, 2009

Draw Your Own Mandala On This Rainy TGIFF!

How To Draw A Mandala is the place to go to do just that.

While you are there take some time to look at the rest of this unique blog. Find out a little more below:

Art is Fun! is a great little art blog by Thaneeya McArdle that evolved from the many questions she was asked on her personal art website

From the About Page:
On this website, I provide a background and overview of many aspects of art, organized by medium, subject matter, and style. Using mainly my own paintings and drawings as examples, I cover topics such as:
  • art supplies/materials used
  • thought process behind the art
  • actual process of building the artwork
  • the basic elements that make each piece "work"
Accessible, low key, and passionate are words that work for this site.


Thursday, August 27, 2009

Are You Reading the 2009 One Book, One Community Book???

Last evening this year's One Book, One Community: Our Region Reads project was launched at a lovely reception at the Palmyra Community Library.

In case you missed it the book selection for 2009 is The People of the Book by Geraldine Brooks.

From a Publisher's Weekly review: "Late one night in the city of Sydney, Hanna Heath, a rare book conservator, gets a phone call. The Sarajevo Haggadah, which disappeared during the siege in 1992, has been found, and Hanna has been invited by the U.N. to report on its condition. Missing documents and art works (as Dan Brown and Lev Grossman, among others, have demonstrated) are endlessly appealing, and from this inviting premise Brooks spins her story in two directions. In the present, we follow the resolutely independent Hanna through her thrilling first encounter with the beautifully illustrated codex and her discovery of the tiny signs-a white hair, an insect wing, missing clasps, a drop of salt, a wine stain-that will help her to discover its provenance. Along with the book she also meets its savior, a Muslim librarian named Karaman. Their romance offers both predictable pleasures and genuine surprises, as does the other main relationship in Hanna's life: her fraught connection with her mother. In the other strand of the narrative we learn, moving backward through time, how the codex came to be lost and found, and made."

So, what is this One Book thing? Well, it's a collaboration between 72 libraries in seven south-central Pennsylvania counties to bring you events and book discussions involving the selected book.

The good news is that if you don't live in one of our counties you can still participate by joining the discussions online at the One Book link above.

Be sure to check out the "Related Materials" page for related titles on events and places from the book as well as links to some great sources on the web.

Miss Bun has heard nothing but good things about this book. So run, don't walk to your nearest library, bookstore, computer, etc. and get a copy of People of the Book and start reading!

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Check Out InsideADog . . .

It's always fun to see what other folks are doing to promote reading (I know, I know....spoken like a true librarian.... but it is!)

InsideADog is a project of The Centre for Youth Literature, State Library Victoria (in Australia) which promotes young adult literature, highlighting Australian writers and their work, and includes the best of the international scene.

(And we all know how Miss Bun has a fondness for Young Adult Literature!)

Under the "Residence" tab you will find a Writer in Residence blog, author interviews and links to author websites & blogs.

Be sure to check out the Inky Awards (Australia's only teen choice book award) and the "Your Say" tab (Twilight Tats??? Eeeeeeeeeew!!!).


Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Tell Your Story & Share With The World . . .

Another great example of how the Internet can connect ALL of us who access it in meaningful and important ways.

Our First Loves Project is a place to tell the story of your first love and read about the stories of others. It began life as a student journalism project and is really a treat to experience.

The stories themselves are simple and short. Most are accompanied by audio and/or visuals but all have a wonderful sense of humanity and will engender an emotional response which you can rate at the bottom of each piece. There are also similar story recommendations as well.

Ok, Peeps, go ahead.... share your story with the world too!

From their About Page:

"Our First Loves is a multimedia storytelling experiment. Produced by a group of student journalists in an interactive design class at the Medill School of Journalism, it is based on the idea that journalism on the Internet should be about connectivity. Not just hyper links or social networking, but connectivity in the sense that it has the unique ability to bring even perfect strangers together and show us what we have in common. New media journalism can be the ultimate equalizer, a proof of the human condition."

Friday, August 21, 2009

And Now For Your TGIFF Listening Enjoyment . . .

Check out this amazing international vocal theater group that hails from Israel. Too much fun!!!

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Ready For An Adventure Without Leaving Home?

Extreme Fullscreen QTVR (quick time virtual reality) is a directory of fullscreen panoramas of buildings, museums, events, landmarks and more that you can explore with your mouse.

Each tour has multiple views to explore. It's almost like being there! Check it out!

This site is a collaborative effort between Hans Nyberg of,
and Marco Trezzini of, the Virtual Reality photography and travel magazine, Arounder, hosted by VRWAY Communication.

"This website is one of various common steps finalized to establish high quality fullscreen QuickTime Virtual Reality as a standard for photographic virtual reality exploration on the Internet."

P.S. Be sure to take a look at the collaborators sites for more amazing views of people, places, and events!

How cool is this??? Enjoy!

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Brush Up On Your Knowledge of Body Parts With . . .

WebAnatomy from the University of Minnesota.

This site is "a collection of study aids for entry-level anatomy and biology students" that is available in four categories: self tests, timed tests, multiplayer games & image bank.

There are more than several topics to explore (such as cells, nervous system, endocrine system, etc.) within each category.

Some of the tests/games are fill in the blank, some are interactive and all give you feedback.

If you are serious (or not) about learning anatomy this is a great resource!

Have fun and learn mad skills!!!

P.S. Be sure to read the warning at the bottom of the home page.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Take An Armchair Cybervisit to ...

The National Library of Australia where you can click on "Explore Our Digital Collections" from which you can explore the Australian story through photos, audio recordings, maps, printed manuscripts, printed music & more.

Be sure to click on "Online Exhibitions" under "Other Online Resources" (its on the middle right) to find out what a Bunyip is and how it fits into Australian culture.

There are many other fascinating things to look at and learn about here so take your time on this site.

Miss Bun (no relation whatsoever to the aforementioned creature!) has noted that visiting National Libraries is one way to explore another country without undue trials or tribulations (or expense)!


Friday, August 14, 2009

Librarians Out Of Control (And None Too Soon!).....TGIFF!!

Who knew librarians had such talent???

This little segment is from the 2009 ALA (American Library Association) Annual Conference in Chicago and features the Fifth Annual Bookcart Drill Team World Championship winners, Oak Park Public Library in Oak Park, Illinois

Don't believe me? See for yourself:

Thursday, August 13, 2009

THE place to go for free computer training & more! comes highly recommended by our in-house computer tech/YA Librarian person, Vicki.

She uses this site when teaching our basic computer classes at the library and has had only good things to say about it.

This is from their About Page: "® is supported by the Goodwill Community Foundation, Inc. (GCF®) whose mission is "to create and provide education, employment, and life enrichment opportunities for people who desire to improve the quality of their lives". exists to serve the educational part of the GCF mission. We create and provide quality, innovative online learning opportunities to anyone who wants to improve the technology, literacy, and math skills necessary for them to be successful in both work and life. We believe there's freedom in the ability to learn what you want, when you want, regardless of your circumstances. That's why we're ''

So if you are in need of basic computer skills (0r know someone who is) this is the place for you (them)! (The site also offers a Spanish language option as well.)

Under the category of Computer Training you will find several courses for getting started: Computer Basics, Windows, Internet Basics, Email Basics, Internet Safety, Mozilla Firefox, and Facebook 101.

There are also courses on using Office software: Word, Excel, Powerpoint, Access, Office,, Outlook 2003, and Publisher 2003.

All the courses are free and it is beneficial to sign up for an account because GCFLearnFree will keep track of the courses you've taken & the progress you've made. Each class is self-paced so you can learn when you have the time.

Besides Computer Training they also offer classes in Everyday Life, Math & Money, Online Classes, & Work & Career.

There is a huge amount of good info to be found at this site so be prepared to take your time and check it out.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

The Mother Ship For Link Lovers! is the place to go if you're someone who likes to browse links for popular sites in subcategories under eleven topics. (Say that ten times fast!)

Topics include: "populair, webdesign, software, gadgets, news, social, music, video, book, iran, & travel."

Needless to say Miss Bun is very impressed with the book page! Bibliophiles should definitely check it out!

Nice layout, nice colors, great stuff!

What more can you ask for?

Have fun exploring!

P.S. There is no "About" info for this site which would be nice to know. However, it appears that the contact for it is Edward de Leau from the Netherlands. (FYI)

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Be A Filmmaker For A Day. . .

On The Civil War by Ken Burns, Public Broadcasting website you have the opportunity to tell your own civil war story using narrative, period music, & archival images.

There are several options to use with the images such as still, zoom in, zoom out and pan.

It was quite interesting to put everything together in a cohesive way. (It's always good to use different parts of ones brain from time to time.)

To start your story just click on "make your movie".

Next you choose your narration and then your music.

At this point you can view images in the Bin Monitor by placing your cursor over an image from the top line of the content bin.

To select an image you click on it and then choose your effect in the bottom line of the content bin. This is the point where you drag and drop your selection from the bottom line to the movie sequence timeline.

It's great fun to watch your creation in the Monitor Bin as you add or rearrange images to your story. You can also email your finished film to friends.

So, Peeps, what are you waiting for? Go make a movie! Enjoy!

Monday, August 10, 2009

Stories from the Nature Conservancy!

The Nature Conservancy , Dear Friends, is the leading conservation organization working around the world (in 50 states & more than 30 countries for 58 years) to protect ecologically important lands and waters for nature and people.

Check out their About Page to find out how and why they are so successful. It's really very impressive!

One of the most engaging features of this site is the Nature Stories Podcasts where you can listen to interesting and unexpected weekly stories of people's connection to the natural world.

For example, try the Snake Charmer podcast to find out why some people love snakes!

Podcasts can be listened to online or downloaded to your iTunes® or your MP3 player to take with you.

(All of the stories are taken from the Public Radio Exchange and many are from Stories from the Heart of the Land, a public radio series sponsored by the Conservancy and Visa, and produced by Atlantic Public Media.)

Miss Bun just loves a good story! Don't you?

Friday, August 7, 2009

Another Pointless But Fun Game For Your TGIFF Enjoyment!

Recursive Blocks is a game to beware of ...

deceptively simple yet somehow totally addictive...

just how we like them!

The object is to clear the board of blocks.

You do this by clicking on any like-colored group of two or more.

And, Peeps, there is no timer!

What are you waiting for? Go and get your game on! Enjoy!

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Love To Be Read To???
is the place to go if you like reading and being read to, interactive games & activities, videos, and contests.

Oh, and there is also the part about this being a free, safe & secure site for children that is ad free & subscription free as well.

Mrs. P is wonderfully played by the actress Kathy Kinney and reminds Miss Bun of the character Mrs. Doubtfire (from the film of the same name). Who can resist the accent?

There are plenty of options you can choose from to make your visit enjoyable like read along options that are great for beginning readers, ESL students & home-schoolers.

Click on the "Note to Parents" link for a reader's guide with ratings.

This site is meant to be explored so hone your mouse-clicking skills and don't be afraid to try different things out. (Hint: The bunny in front of the fireplace leads to coloring & activity pages.)

As far as Miss Bun is concerned Mrs. P puts the PLEASURE back into reading where it belongs!

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Rats in Life & Literature . . .

Hello Peeps! Did you know that Miss Bun has a distinct fondness for pet rats? (I'm guessing most folks would find that strange if not downright disturbing.)

If you are one of them you need to take a look at and find out why you just might want to adjust that attitude.

Who knew that rats can be trained to detect landmines as well as sniff out tuberculosis?

At HeroRat you can learn about this program, adopt a rat, buy cool ratty stuff & marvel at these amazing creatures!

Just in case you think this is some kind of urban legend check this out:

Mankind's new best friend? , Boston Globe, Colin Nickerson November 23, 2008

Did you know that Beatrix Potter had a pet rat named Sammy? She dedicated a book to him. You can read it online here: The Tale of Samuel Whiskers from Project Gutenberg

Here are a few ratty facts (& photos) you might want to take a look at: Interesting Facts About Rats

Plus there is also a List of Fictional Mice and Rats on Wikipedia to peruse.


Monday, August 3, 2009

Need Some Writing Help?

The Purdue Online Writing Lab offers a little something for everyone from high school students, ESL learners & GED students, to parents, professional writers and teachers.

There are over 200 resources here including Formatting and Style Guides, Writing the Basic Business Letter, Avoiding Plagiarism, and Developing a Resume.

Check it out!