Gift Buying? The Library Can Help!

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Need a gift? Are the holidays sneaking up on you? A special someone’s birthday coming up? Anniversary? Wedding shower? The library’s online resources can help!

  1. Reviews of practical and fun products may be found by using Consumer Reports and Consumersearch. For example: Is there a coffee lover in your life? Research and find the best coffee maker.
  2. Avid readers can be fun and challenging to buy books for. Use Novelist, Gale Books and Authors, and/or Select Reads to put their next favorite title into their hands. Available genre lists, author read-alikes, recommendations, etc. can make this a less overwhelming task.
  3. Give the gift of family history. Use Ancestry and Family Search to begin a family tree or get someone started on their own discovery. Have someone curious about their ethnicity and origins on your list? Ancestry also sells DNA test kits.
  4. Handmade gifts are always treasures. Creativebug (select libraries only) will help with ideas and how-to information to make that extra special gift with your own two hands.
  5. Free movies are available for streaming via Hoopla. Plan a stay at home movie night with someone special.

~Lisa Akenhead, Northland Public Library

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Help Patrons Discover Their Ancestors

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Grüne Blätter und leuchtender Panorama Hintergrund bilden Rahmen

With so many people looking to discover their heritage, Ancestry Library Edition is an exciting resource – it opens up a world of records to patrons doing genealogy research.

Ancestry Library Edition gives patrons access to billions of historical documents and millions of historical photos.  There are local narratives, oral histories, indexes and other resources in over 30,000 databases that span from the 1500s to the 2000s available to library patrons.

Patrons working on their family tree can search Census, Birth-Marriage-Death, Military Records and Immigration-Travel records.  They can do basic and advanced searches, create limiters using family members or life events, exact name matching, search using keywords, gender, race, and so much more.

Although patrons must access Ancestry Library from inside the library, it is very easy for patrons to use and it’s free!   It has an intuitive search interface, detailed search indexes and helpful tools.  For in-depth help, ProQuest offers a Libguide on using Ancestry Library Edition.  It provides broad help topics such as:  quick tips, content categories, search tips, sample searches, research tools and lots more.  This is an extremely useful resource for both staff and patrons.

What is the difference between Ancestry Library Edition and

Patrons may want to know how Ancestry Library Edition differs from the regular Ancestry.  Although Ancestry Library Edition is an impressive database, there are some options available to private subscribers that are not available in our library edition.   For example, Family Tree Maker software will not link to the library edition, there are certain databases or collections not included in Ancestry Library Edition, and Members Connect (helps to put users in touch with other researchers looking for the same ancestors) is not included.  For information about other differences, click on the following link:

Help patrons discover their heritage by recommending Ancestry Library Edition.  It is a comprehensive genealogy resource we offer to our patrons for free,  and it’s fun to use.

Lisa DeLucia, Upper St. Clair Library


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Gale In Context: Biography

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I recently helped a group of middle school students find information about Roberto Clemente.  Gale In Context: Biography is an excellent, age appropriate resource for middle school students.  The database has an easy to use interface, and search results are displayed with a comprehensive biography and a box of quick facts.

roberto clemente

The search also provides links to images, articles, book excerpts, and encyclopedia entries.

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These can be downloaded, emailed, and saved to Google drive.

Roberto 3

If you have a middle school student who needs biographical information for a paper or project, Gale In Context: Biography is a fantastic resource.

Kate Straccia, Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh, Main



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Hoopla: Always New

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Are audiobook wait times on Overdrive/Libby getting you or your patrons down? Be sure to let your most fervent audiobook listeners know about the “Just added to Hoopla” page on Hoopla, which is updated with new titles almost daily.


There are similar pages for each offering Hoopla has (movies, music television, comics, and ebooks).

Highlighting this to patrons shows how much new content is added to Hoopla all the time–all without waiting!


Jeff, South Park

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Drumroll please…

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The Digital Resources Committee would like to thank all those who submitted ideas for our “Virtual Lexicon” rebranding contest. After a big discussion and vote, the winner is…

eLibrary Backstage   !!!

Congratulations Carnegie Library of McKeesport for your winning submission! Look for your awesome “swag” coming in the mail…we know you can’t wait.

For everybody else, there’ll be some exciting changes coming in the next few weeks. New name! New look! All the same awesome you’ve come to expect from the blog-formerly-known-as Virtual Lexicon.

Not registered for our blog? Here’s your ticket backstage! Sign up for our weekly emails and get the VIP treatment – all the tips, announcements, and behind-the-scenes info you need to know about your Allegheny County eLibrary.


Heather Auman
Western Allegheny Community Library
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Promoting Hoopla

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Having recently met with a Hoopla rep, I was amazed to discover the plethora of marketing materials available to promote the collection – including Highlights Storytime.


Many other marketing materials can be found here. If you cannot find something to fit your library, Hoopla’s marketing team is happy to help create just the right promotional materials!

Looking for social media content? Try Hoopla’s ready made editorial calendar – there you will find pdf and jpegs that feature areas of the collection for many days of the month.


Gabrielle Bolland – Youth Services

Robinson Township Public Library


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Logging in to OverDrive, plus contest

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First, one more plug for #eBooksForAll.
Have you signed the petition?  It only takes a minute and has the potential to improve access to eBooks for all patrons.

Second, are you thinking about your library’s entry in the CONTEST to rebrand this Virtual Lexicon site?    Details:

  • Each library director has received an online entry form
  • One submission per library/department. We recommend brainstorming ideas for a new site name (and any suggestions for content) as a group
  • Deadline for submissions is November 1, 2019

Next, OverDrive wants to make it easier to sign in and get going.  Libby offers the same collection and is still generally much simpler to use.  If you have a patron who hasn’t used either app before, I’d always recommend Libby (if available — sometimes kindles just don’t want patrons to leave the amazon universe).

Below are highlights of OverDrive’s changes, as seen on a desktop computer (followed by my observations in teal).

We’ve made the following updates to the sign-in page at your library’s OverDrive website:

  • Updated design: The look of the sign-in page has been updated and more prominently displays your library’s colors.
  • Simplified sign in options: To simplify the login process, we removed the Sign in with Facebook and Sign in with OverDrive options (both options required a valid library card). Users can still sign in with their associated cards to access your digital collection and their current loans and holds.
    • It’s very simple if using the ACLA link
    • However, it’s a real nuisance if you go to generic — you have to select your home library at least twice, and it’s unwieldy to check books out.
  • New sign-in help links: The sign-in page can display custom URL links to assist users with their login credentials (e.g., for Card/Username and PIN/Password).
    • Our links are not listed by the Sign In button yet. 
    • Clicking on the ‘Need a Library Card?‘ link at the bottom of the page does direct all visitors to CLP’s page — even though people have to select their library first.
  • Easier library selection: For libraries in a consortium, in addition to the drop-down in the Select your library field, users can now type the name of your library or branch for easy filtering.


Christy Barowich
Carnegie Library of McKeesport

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What are you in the mood for?

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NoveList Plus has you covered when you know what you are in the mood to read but you don’t have a book in mind! With NoveList’s suggestions for different moods and break downs by genre you’re bound to find a great read.  NoveList will let you filter by age, genre, and even sub-genre. So if you are an adult who really enjoys a good romance but you are only interested in heroes who wear kilts – NoveList has the perfect list of titles for you!


The spookiest time of year is upon us so I would be remiss in not pointing out that NoveList’s mood suggestions are currently highlighting “Creepy and Atmospheric” titles. So if you are looking for something spooky or suspenseful then look no further than the main page of NoveList under the mood suggestions.


P.S. If you are on the hunt for a real scare don’t miss out on the NoveList’s horror resources with the “Feel No FEAR” highlight on the main page for this season.


Northland Public Library

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Hold List Increase on OverDrive

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Starting Monday, October 14, OverDrive users will be able to have up to 20 items on their Holds list. The current maximum number of holds is 15. We hope that this increase in holds will be well-received by our patrons.

With more holds, it’s possible that multiple books will become available to at once. To help manage holds, you can suspend holds on specific books on your holds list. Suspending a hold lets you continue moving up on a title’s wait list without the title becoming available for you. If you reach #1 on the wait list, you’ll be in the first position to get the book once your suspended hold period ends.

For example, you might want to suspend a hold for a popular eBook if you’re on a long wait list for it, but know you’ll be unable to read it because you’re in the middle of another title.

You can suspend your holds using the website or via the Libby app in just a few easy steps!

Suspending Holds in Libby

1. Select my account in the right-hand corner.

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2. Select Holds to pull up a complete list of the holds on an account.

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3. Find the item from the list that you would like to suspend the hold.

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4. Select Suspend Hold.  

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5. Users have an option to Suspend Hold for: 7, 14, 21, 28, 60, 90 or 180 days.  This will keep the user’s place in the holds line. Once the designated period is up, users will be placed back in line for the item, while keeping the same place.

6. You can change or remove your suspended hold at any time.

~ Pam Calfo, Bridgeville Public Library & Hilary Lewis, Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh

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Canva – easy graphic design

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Do you struggle coming up with attractive and eye-catching flyers for your programs and events? Do you just use Publisher or Word because it’s on your computer? I might have the answer for you – Canva!

Canva blog

Canva is a free graphic design resource with thousands of templates that are easily adaptable to your needs with plenty of photos, graphics and fonts to choose from.

Conference room

Canva can also help with your social media needs as well by providing templates designed for use on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, You Tube, and more!

And as a library you can apply for a Pro version of Canva for free!

Tracy – Monroeville Public Library


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