News from the Research Desk

News from the Research Desk Blog

Summertime Tips for Financial Literacy

Summer is finally here, and between planning your holidays and wondering when you should turn on the AC, I bet the last thing you’re thinking about is FINANCIAL LITERACY! However, this is actually the BEST time to start figuring out a plan to keep your life cruising along while planning for the future (ok, actually ANYTIME  is a perfect time to work on financial literacy, but why not start now anyway?).

There are many resources that can help, one of which is Feedthepig.org. Assembled by the American Institute of CPAs (and they oughta know!), Feedthepig.org is a great site that offers tips and strategies for putting together a financial plan, including how to create a budget, review your expenses, manage saving, retirement, and student loan debt, and much more. It’s easy to use and fairly straightforward—the real trick, as always, is ACTUALLY DOING IT. Mint.com is another helpful site. Mint pulls all your financial accounts into one place. Set a budget, track your goals, stay on top of your finances. See what’s happening with all your accounts – checking, savings, investments, retirement – at any moment of the day. There’s even a free mobile app to help you stay connected on-the-go. If you’re a student fresh out of college and looking at a mountain (or a molehill) of student loans, you should check out YouCanDealWithIt.com. YouCanDealWithIt.com provides practical and easy-to-understand advice on how to deal with common financial situations facing today’s college students and recent graduates, such as: understanding student aid, including the repayment of student loans, learning effective money management, including setting a budget, and dealing with the dangers of credit cards while enjoying the benefits. In addition to being a resource for students, this website also provides information and tools for parents and college financial aid administrators to help them communicate accurate and effective financial advice to their prospective students, current students, and graduates. So bite the bullet and get started on the road toward better financial literacy today—it may be tough at first, but you’ll be glad you did!

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!

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.

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

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.