Full STEAM Ahead to Children’s Learning!

Get kids ready for the upcoming school year with STEAM materials they can check out online or in print for Curbside Pickup with Abbot Public Library! If you are new to our Curbside Pickup Service, please carefully read these instructions for how to reserve items and set up an appointment to pick them up after they come in.

Hoopla’s STEAM Lookbook Collection has a number of items for students of all levels. STEAM Lab For Kids not only has science projects, but Technology, Engineering, Art, and Math activities as well. The book explores the connection between art and other STEM subjects, giving kids tools for problem solving and critical thinking. Check out even more fun projects in Math Art and Drawing Games for Kids which combine artistic skills with STEM concepts, such as making pixel art with graph paper. Overdrive also has fun STEM activity ebooks such as STEM Lab, in which you can learn concepts by racing wind up cars or making a homemade guitar.

A similar book in print format to reserve for Curbside Pickup is 100 Easy STEAM Activities: Awesome Hands-On Projects for Aspiring Artists and Engineers. Included are games and projects to help kids learn concepts in science, technology, engineering, art, and math such as shaving cream rain clouds or a pool noodle obstacle course. 

For young science lovers, the Bill Nye the Science Guy DVDs may be just the thing to help kids learn about friction, animals, light optics, pressure, energy, and more! During Curbside Pickup service, there is no checkout fee for DVDs, so you can explore science with Bill Nye for free! Some fictional characters that can help kids learn about STEM concepts are Ada Twist, Scientist (in print and on Overdrive/Libby app and hoopla) and Rosie Revere, Engineer (in print and on Overdrive/Libby app and hoopla).

These are just a few of the library’s offerings! Browse through hoopla’s STEAM Lookbook Collection or search for more online science, technology, engineering, art, and math items for kids on hoopla and Overdrive/the Libby app, or reserve physical titles through the library catalog for Curbside Pickup. Read about how the Curbside Service works here.

Introducing Gale Elementary – A Free Educational Resource For Kids!

Have you perused the items in Homeschool with hoopla or the School Closed? Overdrive collection but still want more resources for kids?

Formally called Kids Infobits, Gale Elementary is a free database through Abbot Public Library with which kids through grade 5 can learn about a variety of subjects, including Health, Literature, Science, Social Studies, Sports, Technology, and more! The new kid-friendly design allows you to explore each category visually.

For example, when you click on “Animals,” you will find a topic tree with a circle of different subcategories, including Mammals, Pets and Farm Animals, Fish and Sea Creatures, and Dinosaurs and Extinct Animals. When you click on a subcategory circle, say “Mammals,” the database will show the most popular species or related topics with photos.

Under “Mammals” it shows photo circles of Arctic Foxes, Armadillos, and Baboons as the top three in an alphabetical list of the most popular mammals. Clicking on “Arctic Foxes” reveals a little bit of information to help you learn what it is. For further details, click “Keep Reading” to find more specific information, such as what it looks like, what it eats, where it lives, and so on. All the text is geared towards kids through fifth grade, to help them learn and understand. 

Another feature for the new-and-improved database is it’s “I wonder…” questions. If you wonder what a hedgehog eats, or who invented basketball, or how old J. K. Rowling was when she wrote her first story, these questions and more are answered for you! 

So, if you would like to find out more about dinosaurs or trucks or the different continents, or if you have to research something for school, try Gale Elementary!

Check out the posts from our Children’s category with more educational information for kids, including practicing yoga, making music, going on a backyard safari, exploring resources for stargazing, cooking and doing other kitchen activities, and more!

Libby vs. Overdrive: Which App To Use?

For months, we’ve been urging our patrons to download and read books using Libby and Overdrive while the doors of our library are closed. While many users are familiar with using the apps, many of you may not know WHY there are two separate apps for the same reading purposes. Today we are here to explain the basics!

What is the difference between Libby and the OverDrive app?

Libby is a new app released by OverDrive. It has the same collection of titles as the OverDrive app – it’s just a different way to access the same digital library collection. Libby is a fast and attractive digital browsing experience. Here are some features unique to Libby:

  • Simple, step-by-step on-boarding the first time you open the app
  • Loans and holds are automatically added to your Shelf (from all your libraries), so you can easily find all your books in one place
  • Start reading immediately after you borrow; no need to choose a file format
  • See your at-a-glance progress through each book on your Shelf
  • Navigate easily between your Shelf and your library’s catalog
  • Add, remove, and rename cards from all your libraries in one place
  • Use tags to categorize books however you’d like
  • Set browsing and list preferences to show only the content you’re interested in

OverDrive is the “classic” app, and is compatible with more devices, including Kindle Fire, Macs, PCs, and Windows mobile devices. It also allows for transfer to MP3 players from computers. 

Which app should I use? 

If you use one iOS or Android device to browse, download, and read or listen to digital books, we recommend trying Libby. It’s a great one-device experience.

If you like to read books on many devices, or prefer to browse for new titles on your computer, stick with the OverDrive app for now. Also, if you make use of accessibility features in the OverDrive app, you’ll need to stick with that until more accessibility features get added to Libby.

Your Digital Sunday Newspaper Is Here!

Spend your Sunday reading The New York Times paper online for free! 

The Abbot Public Library now has a subscription to The New York Times Digital. Enjoy easy access to The New York Times daily news from any device and the ability to share articles across social media platforms. You can research historical articles published between 1851 and the current day. Find full access to the international edition.

There are updated, time-stamped articles from the Times sections, including World, Politics, New York, Opinion, Business, Technology, Science, Sports, Arts, Fashion & Style, and Video, as well as searchable access to articles, blogs, features, interviews, obituaries, and columns. You can sign up for weekly newsletter emails. Also included are mini crossword puzzles and The New York Times Magazine.

The New York Times Digital will be available from computers in the library and in your own home with off-site access.

When you access The New York Times Digital from home, click the “redeem” button (the code will be pre-populated). If you are already registered, enter your email and password, or for new users, create an account to get started!

Intro to Microsoft Excel

Microsoft Excel was one of our technology workshops we were excited to teach before the physical closing of the library due to COVID-19. While we hope to gather in the near future to continue sharing our knowledge of technology, we would like to give you a head start on learning Excel! 

Below is a PowerPoint presentation of the basics of the program, and we welcome you to download it to use at your convenience. If you have any questions, please feel free to email us at mar@noblenet.org, and a librarian will be in touch as soon as possible. Click the image to get started!

If you’re interested in learning similar computer programs, take a look at Microsoft Word, which was introduced last week. 

Introducing: Microsoft Word!

Being home more often may mean you have more time to learn a new computer skill! Whether you are brand new to using Microsoft Word, or if you would like a refresher, we have something that can help! One of the Abbot library staff has provided a step-by-step Introduction to Microsoft Word presentation that you are welcome to download and use at your convenience. Just click the image below to view the PDF!

Questions about what you have learned, or confused about anything in the presentation? No need to worry! By emailing mar@noblenet.org, a staff member will be happy to answer any questions you may have.

There’s A Podcast For That

There’s no doubt about it: podcasts have taken the listening world by storm. From true crime to politics to self-help, you can find a podcast for every interest and topic. Even some of our favorite museums are getting in on the action and producing their own podcasts in-house! While we can’t enjoy these institutions in person, listening to their podcasts is a unique way to connect with museum collections, stories, and staff.

PEMcast from the Peabody Essex Museum launched in 2014 and is hosted by Chip Van Dyke and Dinah Cardin. They aim to connect the museum and its collections to broader cultural issues through conversations and storytelling. Their dedication to high-quality and engaging content has even earned a Silver Muse Award from the American Alliance of Museums. Episodes cover everything from music to historic homes to the maker movement and public art. 

The Museum of Science’s Pulsar: A Podcast, described as a “playground for the mind” is another great museum-created podcast. Produced by the Gordon Current Science and Technology Center of the Museum of Science, Pulsar tackles your biggest science questions, including what it’s like to live in space, how to use technology to preserve our cultural heritage sites, and how Cliff, a 65 million-year-old Triceratops fossil, arrived at the Museum.

All caught up on the latest episodes of your favorite podcast? Maybe looking for a new one to dive into? Check out these awesome, popular titles inspired by your favorite pods and podcasters:

Stay Sexy & Don’t Get Murdered: The Definitive How-To Guide by Karen Kilgariff & Georgia Hardstark 

From Overdrive/Libby: “The instant #1 New York Times and USA Today best seller by Karen Kilgariff and Georgia Hardstark, the voices behind the hit podcast My Favorite Murder! Sharing never-before-heard stories ranging from their struggles with depression, eating disorders, and addiction, Karen and Georgia irreverently recount their biggest mistakes and deepest fears, reflecting on the formative life events that shaped them into two of the most followed voices in the nation. In Stay Sexy & Don’t Get Murdered, Karen and Georgia focus on the importance of self-advocating and valuing personal safety over being ‘nice’ or ‘helpful.’ They delve into their own pasts, true crime stories, and beyond to discuss meaningful cultural and societal issues with fierce empathy and unapologetic frankness.”

Unqualified by Anna Faris 

From Overdrive/Libby: “A hilarious, honest memoir—combined with just the right amount of relationship advice—from the popular actress and host of the hit podcast Anna Faris is Unqualified. Anna Faris has advice for you. And it’s great advice, because she’s been through it all, and she wants to tell you what she’s learned. After surviving an awkward childhood (when she bribed the fastest boy in the third grade with ice cream), navigating dating and marriage in Hollywood, and building a podcast around romantic advice, Anna has plenty of lessons to share: Advocate for yourself. Know that there are wonderful people out there and that a great relationship is possible. And, finally, don’t date magicians. Her comic memoir, Unqualified, shares Anna’s candid, sympathetic, and entertaining stories of love lost and won. Part memoir—including stories about being “the short girl” in elementary school, finding and keeping female friends, and dealing with the pressures of the entertainment industry and parenthood—part humorous, unflinching advice from her hit podcast, Anna Faris Is Unqualified, the book will reveal Anna’s unique take on how to master the bizarre, chaotic, and ultimately rewarding world of love. Hilarious, honest, and useful, Unqualified is the book Anna’s fans have been waiting for.”

Alice Isn’t Dead: A Novel by Joseph Fink

From Overdrive/Libby & hoopla: “From the New York Times best selling coauthor of It Devours! and Welcome to Night Vale comes a fast-paced thriller about a truck driver searching across America for the wife she had long assumed to be dead, performed by the voice of the Alice Isn’t Dead podcast, Jasika Nicole, with an exclusive essay written and read by Joseph Fink. “This isn’t a story. It’s a road trip.” Keisha Taylor lived a quiet life with her wife, Alice, until the day that Alice disappeared. After months of searching, presuming she was dead, Keisha held a funeral, mourned, and gradually tried to get on with her life. But that was before Keisha started to see her wife, again and again, in the background of news reports from all over America. Alice isn’t dead, and she is showing up at every major tragedy and accident in the country. Following a line of clues, Keisha takes a job as a long-haul truck driver and begins searching for Alice. In pursuit of her missing wife, she will stumble on a forgotten American history of secret deals and buried crimes, an inhuman serial killer who has picked her as his next target, and an otherworldly conflict being waged in the quiet corners of our nation’s highway system—uncovering a conspiracy that goes way beyond one missing woman.”

Welcome to Night Vale: A Novel by Joseph Fink & Jeffrey Cranor

From Overdrive/Libby & hoopla: “From the creators of the wildly popular Welcome to Night Vale podcast comes an imaginative mystery of appearances and disappearances that is also a poignant look at the ways in which we all struggle to find ourselves…no matter where we live. Located in a nameless desert somewhere in the great American Southwest, Night Vale is a small town where ghosts, angels, aliens, and government conspiracies are all commonplace parts of everyday life. It is here that the lives of two women, with two mysteries, will converge. Nineteen-year-old Night Vale pawn shop owner Jackie Fierro is given a paper marked “KING CITY” by a mysterious man in a tan jacket holding a deer skin suitcase. Everything about him and his paper unsettles her, especially the fact that she can’t seem to get the paper to leave her hand, and that no one who meets this man can remember anything about him. Jackie is determined to uncover the mystery of King City and the man in the tan jacket before she herself unravels. Night Vale PTA treasurer Diane Crayton’s son, Josh, is moody and also a shape shifter. And lately Diane’s started to see her son’s father everywhere she goes, looking the same as the day he left years earlier, when they were both teenagers. Josh, looking different every time Diane sees him, shows a stronger and stronger interest in his estranged father, leading to a disaster Diane can see coming, even as she is helpless to prevent it. Diane’s search to reconnect with her son and Jackie’s search for her former routine life collide as they find themselves coming back to two words: “KING CITY”. It is King City that holds the key to both of their mysteries, and their futures…if they can ever find it.”

Adnan’s Story: The Search for Truth and Justice After Serial by Rabia Chaudry 

From Overdrive/Libby: “Serial only told part of the story… In early 2000, Adnan Syed was convicted and sentenced to life plus thirty years for the murder of his ex-girlfriend Hae Min Lee, a high school senior in Baltimore, Maryland. Syed has maintained his innocence, and Rabia Chaudry, a family friend, has always believed him. By 2013, after almost all appeals had been exhausted, Rabia contacted Sarah Koenig, a producer at This American Life, in hopes of finding a journalist who could shed light on Adnan’s story. In 2014, Koenig’s investigation turned into Serial, a Peabody Award-winning podcast with more than 500 million international listeners. But Serial did not tell the whole story. In this compelling narrative, Rabia Chaudry presents new key evidence that she maintains dismantles the State’s case: a potential new suspect, forensics indicating Hae was killed and kept somewhere for almost half a day, and documentation withheld by the State that destroys the cell phone evidence — among many other points — and she shows how fans of Serial joined a crowd-sourced investigation into a case riddled with errors and strange twists. Adnan’s Story also shares Adnan’s life in prison, and weaves in his personal reflections, including never-before-seen letters. Chaudry, who is committed to exonerating Adnan, makes it clear that justice is yet to be achieved in this much examined case.”

Sadie by Courtney Summers

From Overdrive/Libby & hoopla: “An innovative audiobook production featuring more than thirty voices, Sadie explores the depth of a sister’s love — poised to be the next story listeners won’t be able to pause. A missing girl on a journey of revenge and a Serial—like podcast following the clues she’s left behind. Sadie hasn’t had an easy life. Growing up on her own, she’s been raising her sister, Mattie, in an isolated small town, trying her best to provide a normal life and keep their heads above water. But when Mattie is found dead, Sadie’s entire world crumbles. After a somewhat botched police investigation, Sadie is determined to bring her sister’s killer to justice and hits the road following a few meager clues to find him. When West McCray—a radio personality working on a segment about small, forgotten towns in America—overhears Sadie’s story at a local gas station, he becomes obsessed with finding the missing girl. He starts his own podcast as he tracks Sadie’s journey, trying to figure out what happened, hoping to find her before it’s too late. Courtney Summers’ Sadie is propulsive and harrowing and will keep listeners riveted until the last chapter.”

Just Unsubscribe!

Last year, 54 billion junk emails were sent throughout the world. These emails come from advertisers, companies, and mailing lists, some with malicious intent. Oh, and by the way, that’s 54 billion each day, every day in 2019. Sometimes you might look at your inbox and think you account for half of that number. How can you make it stop?

Glancing at your email, you may see more than 1,000 messages, some with “interesting” subjects:

  • How to Lose Weight by Drinking Wine!
  • Get Medical Help for Your Child’s ADHD
  • Prosthetics…with NO interest
  • Try Vitamin-Infused Coffee FREE!!!
  • ADVANCED Guard Dogs – Collies, Shepherds, Bull Dogs

These are spam emails, or more commonly referred to simply as “junk mail.” You may have no interest in any of these things, although losing weight by drinking something so good sounds pretty nice. So why are you receiving these?

You may wonder how these intrepid companies got your email in the first place, especially if you’re generally very careful about who you give your email address to. Unfortunately, there are several ways a company can get your email address. Usually, it involves them buying your email address from a company that you thought would be trustworthy. Perhaps the reason you keep getting these emails is because a certain sports newsletter you signed up for several months ago sold your email address to a few companies. They, in turn, sold your email address to yet more companies. The cycle goes on and on. In other words, you have a problem that 51% of email owners have. You are receiving a part of the 54 billion spam emails sent worldwide each day.

This raises the question – how do you stop the flow of unnecessary emails? Simply put, you hit the unsubscribe button. Unfortunately, the simple answer doesn’t always solve a problem simply. So, here’s the in-depth way on how to unsubscribe from junk emails.

Per a law enacted in 2008, all advertisers must allow email recipients (that’s you) to prevent further emails from being sent to them. So, if a company is law-abiding, they will have something called an “unsubscribe” or “opt-out” link at the very bottom of their email. If you want to stop receiving emails from a certain company, you’d do well to find that link.

Now, all you have to do is click “unsubscribe,” and the first step to decluttering your inbox is done! Once you click that link, it will bring you to a new tab that will have one of the following:

  • A box to type your own email address into (to let the company know that your email address is off limits)
  • A list of specific types of emails you can unsubscribe from. For example, if you are unsubscribing from a health newsletter, you can unsubscribe from emails geared toward children but keep receiving email for adults. You will also be given a choice to unsubscribe from all further emails, if you so choose.
  • A simple message stating that you have been unsubscribed.

Now that you have finished these simple pieces, all that’s left to do is wait. Per the same law mentioned earlier, the sender has 10 days to remove you from their mailing lists. That means you may receive some emails for a few days after you unsubscribe.

Unsubscribing from emails can take time, particularly if you have several different companies sending you emails. Yet, if you’re sick and tired of having to delete all the junk mail that collects in your inbox, or maybe you’re just tired of being asked for money every day, than it’s worth the effort. To help pass the time as you unsubscribe, could enjoy some weight-loss wine or vitamin-infused coffee as you pet your advanced guard dog.

Zoom’s Boom

Typing “Zoom hacking” into Google will yield you 113,000,000 results. Going a step broader, and typing “Zoom privacy” will pull up 1,390,000,000 results. So, what’s the big deal with this Zoom thing anyways?

Odds are that you’ve taken part in at least one conference call, fitness class, or family meet-up on the Zoom app. Zoom is one of the many apps that people are finding to be godsends while we are stuck indoors. Zoom’s function is very simple. You get a group of people together via an invite link, and have a video-conferencing call. It couldn’t be simpler, really. Is that where things go wrong?

In the past week, Zoom has been under intense scrutiny, particularly for how they handle user privacy. The backlash has even pushed Zoom’s CEO to admit that he “really messed up.”

Like Facebook, Zoom’s privacy policy included the right to collect data, store it, and share it with third-parties such as advertisers. This ‘data’ includes your name and location. Most companies request this data. So, what makes Zoom different? Zoom’s right to collect your data also included “the content contained in cloud recordings and instant messages, files, [and] whiteboards…shared while using the service.” Still feel great about using Zoom?

Another issue is something called “Zoombombing”. Similar to photo-bombing and party-crashing, Zoombombing occurs when an uninvited guest joins your Zoom meeting. Also similar to photo-bombing and party-crashing, Zoombombing can be aggravating and disruptive. Zoombombers can join a Zoom meeting simply by acquiring the invite link, which may have been forwarded one too many times by a real guest. Zoombombers have been known to broadcast pornographic, racist, or otherwise vitriolic content. These incidents have prompted Boston’s FBI office to issue warnings about Zoom.

So, how can you stay safe on Zoom? And, what is Zoom doing to fix their clear issues? As bad as all of this sounds, Zoom has made huge improvements in their handling of privacy, as well as implementing strong procedures to protect against unwanted guests.

For starters, this week Zoom revised their privacy policy. Zoom no longer has rights to distribute users’ personal data. It will no longer store and keep any names or locations of users. Further, Zoom wants you to know that “your meetings are yours” and they “do not monitor them or even store them after your meeting is done”.

As for the Zoombombing issue, Zoom has added two big safeguards to protect against these unwanted guests. Firstly, Zoom users must enter a meeting-specific password when joining a meeting. Secondly, Zoom now uses a virtual waiting room, which allows the host to see participants before allowing them access to the meeting. This virtual staging area will be crucial in stopping unwanted guests from entering a public meeting.

We should also take steps personally to prevent Zoombombers. Make sure that you have mastered the use of Zoom before hosting a large or public meeting. For example, did you know that by clicking on a participant’s name, you can mute them, or prevent screen sharing? Remember not to let the Trojan horse into your Zoom meeting. Keep a close eye on your guests, and if you see something, say something. Zoom can be a safe and important tool for us, especially at this critical time. Just make sure that you are cautious and alert while on a Zoom meeting. Now, when you’ve mastered Zoom, take a deep breath in, and enjoy your Zoom yoga session, 18th work meeting this week, happy hour, or that family meet-up with your in-laws, and that weird uncle that you “really don’t want to attend. I’m tired,” (Smile — If you’re lucky, the host is using a basic account, and the meeting can only last 40 minutes).