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News from the Reference Desk

One-Stop Veterans’ Benefits Help

Helping veteran and other service members find ways to connect to benefits is one of the services provided by the reference staff. Thanks to Executive Order 13426 (issued in March 2007) this previously somewhat confusing and laborious task got a whole lot easier. Order 13426 established the President’s Commission on Care for America’s Returning Wounded Warriors, which recommended the creation of a web portal that would provide service members, veterans, their families and authorized caregivers with a single sign-on, central access point to clinical and benefit data. This portal, now known as eBenefits, has arrived and is a great resource to research, find, access, and, in time, manage their benefits and personal information. It utilizes the National Resource Directory (NRD), a partnership among the Departments of Defense, Labor and Veterans Affairs. Information contained within the NRD is from federal, state and local government agencies; veteran and military service organizations; non-profit and community-based organizations; academic institutions and professional associations that provide assistance to wounded warriors and their families. In addition it partners with and uses information from a variety of sources including Benefits.gov, Defense Finance and Accounting Service (DFAS), Defense.gov, Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), Military Health System, MilitaryHOMEFRONT, My HealtheVet (MHV), Social Security Online, and TRICARE. Vets et al. can create an account and access their current benefits status, download their DD-214, search by location and topic for employment and education opportunities designed specifically for veterans and service members, and more. The site offers detailed tutorials on how best to use it, broken down by the type of user (e.g. veteran, current service member, related family). It even shows you how to connect with other vets via Facebook and Twitter! Without a doubt, if you or someone in your family is a veteran or active service member, it’s well worth taking a look at eBenefits, either on your own or at the library with a reference librarian—make an appointment today and let us help you navigate this comprehensive resource!

By joecollier on June 5, 2014 Categories: Health, Veterans, Web Resource

Photographs from the Field Museum

Chicago’s Field Museum is known for its notable specimens numbering over 24 million.  Did you know that the museum also has tens of thousands of photographs in its collection?  Many of them are available online at http://fieldmuseum.org/explore/department/library/photo-archives/collections.  The photos include scenes from the World’s Columbian Exposition of 1893 and historic photos from Africa, Peru, the South Pacific and the United States.  This collection documents the history and architecture of the Museum, its exhibitions, events, staff and scientific expeditions.

By annes on June 3, 2014 Categories: History, Museums, Photography

Net Neutrality

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has recently proposed rules regarding net neutrality or an open internet. They are seeking public comments to assist them in making these very important rules.

From the FCC website:

The FCC has previously concluded that broadband providers have the incentive and ability to act in ways that threaten Internet openness. But today, there are no rules that stop broadband providers from trying to limit Internet openness. That is why the Notice adopted by the FCC today starts with a fundamental question: “What is the right public policy to ensure that the Internet remains open?”

Initial comments to these proposed rules opened on May 15 and will close on July 15. Replies to comments will be open until September 15. Comments (termed “filings”) may be submitted on the FCC website.

For further reading:

American Library Association: Network Neutrality
Consumers Union on FCC Plan for New Net Neutrality Rules
Consumers Union: What is Network Neutrality?
New York Times: FCC Backs Opening Net Neutrality Rules for Debate
Washington Post: FCC Approves Plan to Consider Paid Priority on Internet
Washington Post: ‘Net Neutrality’ Puts FCC at Center of Storm
Washington Post: Why the Death of Net Neutrality Would be a Disaster for Libraries

By julie collins on May 16, 2014 Categories: Consumer, Technology, Web/Tech

Identity Theft

In 2012, approximately 16.6 million individuals (or 7% of the population) over the age or 16 were victims of identity theft in the United States according to a report from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. The increasing number of security breaches occurring just in the past few months has made it imperative that consumers take precautions to safeguard their private information and to know where to turn and steps to take if they become victims themselves. The Federal Trade Commission’s Consumer Information website has an Identity Theft  guide which provides useful and detailed information for victims and tips for those who would like to safeguard their identity. Specific sections (e.g. initial steps to take if you are a victim; what to do later in the process; how to safeguard your identity and different types of identity theft) are presented in an easy to understand format with helpful checklists to simplify the process.

By julie collins on April 23, 2014 Categories: Consumer, Credit Cards

Beware Tax Phone Scam

Con artists pretending to be IRS agents call unsuspecting taxpayers and tell them they owe money and must pay using a prepaid debit card or wire transfer. Those refusing to pay are threatened with arrest, deportation (many of the targeted victims were immigrants) or loss of a business or driver’s license. Estimates that at least 20,000 of these calls were made and victims have given over $1 million to the scammers, making this the largest tax scam ever. The real IRS  first makes contact by mail, not phone, about taxes due and they never ask for payment via a prepaid debit card or wire transfer. For more info: Tax phone scam ‘largest ever’

By julie collins on April 5, 2014 Categories: Taxes

Ferguson’s Career Guidance Center

Ferguson’s Career Guidance Center‘s four comprehensive school search databases offer detailed profiles of undergraduate, graduate, nursing, and vocational and technical schools in the United States and Canada, providing an indispensable tool for students researching and planning their education. Frequent updates keep the data–from Peterson’s Nelnet, LLC–current, accurate, and reliable.

The undergraduate school search, for instance, offers in one convenient place the most current information on more than 4,500 schools in the United States, Canada, and related regions that offer two-year and/or four-year degrees. All schools included have full accreditation or are pre-accredited and grant degrees at the associate’s and/or bachelor’s level. Users can search based on location, institution type, enrollment, faculty/student ratio, tuition, sports, campus setting, campus housing, admissions difficulty level, and areas of study.

Coming Soon: Significant updates to the graduate school data!

By Steve Browne on March 10, 2014 Categories: Education, Employment, Web Resource

Primary Care Doctors

doctors Achoo! This time of year, colds and flu knock many of us off our feet. And while many seasonal illnesses are only treatable with rest and chicken soup, sometimes a call to the doctor is in order. The most important way to ensure you get high-quality health care when you need it is to establish a relationship with a good primary care physician. Checkbook.org features ratings of local primary care doctors, along with tips on how to “check-up” on any doctor, and how to know when it may be time to find a new physician.

By Steve Browne on February 20, 2014 Categories: Web Resource

Announcing LearningExpress Library 3.0

learningexpresslibraryA new version of our powerful online learning resource has arrived. LearningExpress Library 3.0 features a new tutorial and test-preparation platform, with easier access to skill-building resources and new features designed to help students and adults prepare for success in school and at work. Upgraded features include learner, exam, and simulation modes. These timed and untimed practice modes help students and adults prepare for a wide range of academic exams such as GED, COOP, HSPT, SAT, ACT, AP, PSAT, and career certification tests such as NCLEX-RN, Praxis I and II, and more. Call us or stop by the Reference Desk to learn how you can have online access to these extremely beneficial learning resources for work and school – anytime, anywhere.

By Steve Browne on January 17, 2014 Categories: Web Resource

Announcing Lynda.com

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The Library now subscribes to a new exclusive web resource which you may have heard about before. It is Lynda.com, an online training library that covers many software titles, scripting languages, design and web development platforms, and popular online sites. You can find out how to use Word, Excel, how to take and edit digital photography, create 3D animation, and how to use your smartphone. There are also business topics such as management fundamentals, communicating across cultures, and how to run businesses.

What makes Lynda.com appealing is that these course are all video because seeing something in action helps to learn new skills, especially when it is a computer skills.

And it’s free to Mount Prospect Library card holders.

All you have to do to get it free is follow this link: http://mppl.org/research/web-resources/?category=lynda

And if want to see what else we offer, here is a link to all our exclusive web resources: http://mppl.org/research/web-resources/?category=Premium

By Steve Browne on December 12, 2013 Categories: Web Resource

Introducing Mango Premier

Mango Languages has added a layer to its unique language learning program. If you are studying Chinese (Mandarin), Japanese, or English for Spanish Speakers you will have added courses that involve watching foreign films. You can watch the movie all the way through reading subtitles in English, the original language, both at the same time, or your own comprehension. You can be more engaged in the “Engaged Mode”. You will be prepped with a scene instruction and find a list of words you will encounter.

Films currently available:

Kung Fu Dunk (Chinese Mandarin)
Negative Happy Chainsaw Edge (Japanese)
The Diary of Anne Frank (English for Spanish Speakers)
I’ll Believe You (English for Spanish Speakers)

Mango will be adding new films in the future.

By julie collins on November 12, 2013 Categories: Foreign Language Learning