Persuasive Essay Help – Gale In Context: Opposing Viewpoints

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In order to write a good persuasive essay, students need to understand all of the sides of their topic. It can be difficult, though, to find reliable, unbiased information on polarizing subjects. The library can help. Gale in Context: Opposing Viewpoints is a research tool that focuses on identifying and exploring all of the sides of important issues.

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Not sure how to find a topic of interest? Browsing issues is a good way to find a topic that meets the criteria for a persuasive essay assignment. opposing viewpoints 1

Once a topic is chosen, Opposing Viewpoints has many tools to help explore and learn about the issue.

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The text of the articles can be translated into over 35 languages, the font size of the text can be adjusted, and there is an option to listen to the articles. Articles can be printed, emailed or shared on a variety of platforms. There is also a highlighting and note taking function.

Gale in Context: Opposing Viewpoints can even help with source citation. Citing resources can always be a challenge – MLA, Chicago, & APA citation styles all require very specific notations and formatting. The Source Citation tool within the resource clearly shows the required citation style.

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All of the Gale In Context resources including Gale in Context: Biography, Gale in Context: US History, Gale In Context: World History, and Gale in Context: Middle School have the same search options and functionalities, so once you are familiar with one In Context resource, you will be able to easy work within the others.

Persuasive essays can be challenging, but with the right tools students can feel confident that their arguments are informed and credible.

~ Hilary Lewis, Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh

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Collection Development Tools

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One of my favorite things to do in my job is to buy the books that our patrons will get to read. I love helping our patrons with all of their information needs, but deciding which books might be a person’s next favorite read is very exciting to me!

Here are a few of my favorite places to get inspiration:


Book Riot claims that they are “the largest independent editorial book site in North America, and home to a host of media, from podcasts to newsletters to original content.” There is a wealth of information available here. Some of it is designed specifically for librarians and some is aimed towards the reader. Either way it’s a great source to find out what people are talking about!


Book Page is a monthly publication distributed to libraries and bookstores all over the country. For a fee libraries can order multiple copies to give away for free. They are very popular at Monroeville! The website also provides reviews of recently published books and interviews with authors.

edelweiss-logo         NetGalley

And if you like to get Advanced Reader Copies be sure to sign up with Netgalley and Edelweiss+. These sites let you request ARCs of a variety of upcoming publications and provide reviews.

Tracy — Monroeville Public Library




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Check Air Quality with

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Probably everyone in Pittsburgh has heard about the Google engineer who warned others not to move here due to poor air quality. Here’s a link to the original article in case you missed it: When better isn’t good enough: Why I tell my Google co-workers and industry peers to avoid Pittsburgh

If your patrons are now curious about the air quality in our area, direct them to Simply type in a zip code at the top of the page to receive the air quality index score (AQI) for the day, as well as tomorrow’s forecast. At the time of this writing (Thursday, January 16 at 3 pm), Pittsburgh’s AQI score is “Good” at 45 particle pollution:


Like the weather, this score changes hourly. At 2 pm, our score was “Moderate” at 54 particle pollution.

Here’s how classifies the six levels of health concerns:

  • “Good” AQI is 0 to 50. Air quality is considered satisfactory, and air pollution poses little or no risk.
  • “Moderate” AQI is 51 to 100. Air quality is acceptable; however, for some pollutants there may be a moderate health concern for a very small number of people. For example, people who are unusually sensitive to ozone may experience respiratory symptoms.
  • “Unhealthy for Sensitive Groups” AQI is 101 to 150. Although general public is not likely to be affected at this AQI range, people with lung disease, older adults and children are at a greater risk from exposure to ozone, whereas persons with heart and lung disease, older adults and children are at greater risk from the presence of particles in the air.
  • “Unhealthy” AQI is 151 to 200. Everyone may begin to experience some adverse health effects, and members of the sensitive groups may experience more serious effects.
  • “Very Unhealthy” AQI is 201 to 300. This would trigger a health alert signifying that everyone may experience more serious health effects.
  • “Hazardous” AQI greater than 300. This would trigger a health warning of emergency conditions. The entire population is more likely to be affected.

AirNow has a lot of detailed information that can help people better understand the science behind air pollution and how it relates to their health. It’s a great resource for anyone concerned about air quality in Pittsburgh and beyond.

-Sarah, Mt. Lebanon Public Library

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Resolve to Learn a New Language

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Many library patrons elect to learn a new skill in the new year. What better time to learn a new language? Fortunately, the eLibrary has several language learning resources available for all ages.

logo-with-duoOne option is Duolingo – a language learning platform with dozens of languages available. This public resource operates under a “freemium” model, meaning there are some features that are only available with a paid subscription. However, the software is easy-to-use and works more like a game for users than an instructional program. Users can earn badges and unlock new features as they progress. Bonus, Duolingo is a Pittsburgh-based company (woot woot!).

mangoAnother great language learning tool is Mango Languages – a library-funded resource with over 70+ languages all available for free to patrons. Mango is excellent for learning conversation skills and provides a historic and cultural background for many of its languages. It also guides users through levels as they progress, while also offering specialty units on business, medical, and legal issues. This is a great resource for English as a Second Language (ESL) learners. Plus, the Mango app makes learning on the go easy.

Sure – these resources are great for adults, but what about kids?

little pim2That’s where Little Pim comes in! This language learning software from Mango Languages is geared for children. Little Pim offers 10 languages and uses videos and electronic flash cards to encourage even very young children to begin learning a new language.

Hopefully, these language learning tools will help get your patrons off to a great start in the new year!

Richelle @ Sewickley Public Library

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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.

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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.

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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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